Station Fire Anniversary
Survivors of the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., a blaze that killed 100 people on Feb. 20, 2003, will mark the anniversary of the tragedy shortly after 11 p.m. tonight on the former site of the club, sharing remembrances of loved ones who died and taking a “pilgrimage walk” through an area on the site marked with crosses for the deceased, according to one survivor who lost her fiance in the fire.
Gina Russo of Cranston, R.I., said as many as 50 survivors may attend tonight’s observance, which a small group has held every year since the deadly blaze.
“We do our best to pay our respects,” said Russo, whose fiance Alfred Crisostomi died in the fire. “Just to talk about the people who have died, it’s our tribute to them.”
The fire at the West Warwick club began when pyrotechnics from the rock band Great White ignited cheap soundproofing foam around the stage, engulfing the building in flames.
Club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian pleaded no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter, and former Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele pleaded guilty to the same charges. Biechele and Michael Derderian served time in prison. The dozens of people and companies that were sued have agreed to settle for a combined $176 million.
Survivors will gather tonight at the Cowesett Inn at 226 Cowesett Ave., across the street from the former site of the club, before walking to the grounds. Russo said a few survivors may arrive earlier at the club site to pay their respects in private.
“We lost so many great people,” said Russo, who co-authored a book about the tragedy, “From the Ashes: Surviving the Station Nightclub Fire.” “It’s just that no matter how long we’re alive, they will never be forgotten.”
A larger service is scheduled at the site at 1 p.m. Sunday and will include speakers, 100 seconds of silence for the victims, and a prayer from a clergy member, Russo said.
Material from The Associated Press was included in this report.