EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

October 21, 2012

Memorial for 100 RI nightclub fire victims unveiled

WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — Relatives of the 100 people who died in a 2003 nightclub fire cried and held each other yesterday during the unveiling of a so-called satellite memorial to their loved ones, capping a month in which a yearslong effort to secure the West Warwick site of the fire for another memorial finally came to fruition.

The Warwick memorial places a special focus on the 10 Warwick residents who died in the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub, which happened when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White ignited flammable foam that lined the walls of the club. Nine of the Warwick residents’ names are inscribed in a granite slab that sits at the top of a 28-foot-diameter brick circular plaza. Around the exterior of the circle are 100 8-by-8-inch bricks inscribed with the name of every person who died.

Each victim’s name was read aloud as the memorial was dedicated.

“It is my hope that this memorial serves as a stepping stone to the memorial in West Warwick,” said Jody King, the driving force behind the Warwick memorial. His brother, Tracy, was a bouncer at The Station nightclub and died there that night.

Plans for the Warwick memorial were announced just over one month ago and initially bothered some family members. At the time, the site of the fire was still in private hands. Efforts to get the owners to donate the site had gone nowhere for years, and dozens of letters and phone calls to the owners asking what could be done to secure the land for a memorial had gone unanswered.

Some family members worried that a memorial in Warwick would take the focus off securing the site of the fire. Dave Kane, whose 18-year-old son, Nicholas O’Neill, died in the fire, said it was time for the state to seize the land by eminent domain. Gov. Lincoln Chafee said his office would look into it, and House Speaker Gordon Fox also said he was interested.

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