Remembering The Station Fire

I wasn’t there. Yet I still feel somewhat connected.

So much that I’ve spent more than a few hours yesterday and today reading stories, looking at pictures, watching video, reading court proceedings.

But this is not about me. At all. Not one little bit. Nor is this an attempt to make it anything about me. Might I have been there? Possibly. It’s certainly something I would go to in the past. Did I have the chance at tickets? I sure did. But, that isn’t the point.

Nor is the point about blame. There is plenty of it to go around. That’s for sure. But, that debate is and has been for the courts.


This is about what happened five years ago, February 20, 2003, and how it has affected hundreds of lives.

It killed 100 people.

It injured nearly twice that many.

It left 64 kids without one or both parents.

It was a tragedy that didn’t need to happen. Yet, it did.

IT is the Station Fire, a blaze that was started when pyrotechnics set off by the 1980s band Great White ignited the inside of the small club in West Warwick, RI, where it was playing — named The Station.

I live less than an hour from the club. This was national news. Still is. And if you are unaware of it, please, check out the links below. If you don’t know about this story, you should. And, if you do know about this story, you should know more.

Read the survival stories. See the frustration. The hope. The anger. The sadness. The perseverance.

Look at the pictures. Be amazed at how fast this happened and how small the club was. There were at least 462 people in the club that night.

I was actually on the radio the morning after. I was part of a local morning show and we heard the news that morning about a fire overnight at a club. The news reports started with a death toll of about 18. Forty five minutes later it was in the 20s. Then it was over 30. Not to long after that, it was more than 50.

And it kept growing. To a number that is almost unbelievable. Think of it. One in four people didn’t make it out. And of those that did, they are literally scarred for life.

I’ve been to the site. Had to. Can’t explain it any other way. It’s in an area with a number of stores, and when Renee and I were up there shopping, I had to stop. I didn’t know anyone. But that didn’t stop me from having to see it. I can’t explain why. I just did. And I feel like going back there again.

What amazed me is how small it was. It’s an empty lot now with makeshift memorials all over, honoring those that were there last night. Those that didn’t get out. But the size of the lot is almost unimaginable that there was a club there. That many bands — once filling up arenas — were playing here. In this parking lot.

There are plans for a memorial to be built there. And it should be. And the plans are gorgeous — including a harp with 100 strings that will play music every time the wind blows through it.

This was one of the largest fire casualties in history. And it was in a place that is like many places we all have been. Small. Cramped. Yet, in a way, fun to be in.

I’m rambling now. I’m not really sure what to say. I just know that you should know about this — if you don’t already. And know that around here, this is a big deal. There are stories regularly. And anniversaries mean more stories. And these are stories that need to be told.

Because, in this instance, the story should not go away.

For more information:

Coverage from the Providence Journal

Station Fire Memorial Foundation
Wikipedia Information

9 Comments on “Remembering The Station Fire”

  1. Molly says:

    The morning after I was getting calls from all over the country askling me if I was ok. Obviously, I was not there (Great White isn’t really my scene), but I feel for each and every person was was affected by this tragedy. Thanks for posting about this…I think it’s good to share with the rest of the country what happened.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I remember when this happened. And I remember a few years later when I was living in CT and it came up on the news all over again. So terrible, but glad you brought it back into memory for us.

  3. Stormy says:

    This was horrible.

    Like you, I felt a strange connection to it. Maybe it was because of Great White, even though I’m not their biggest fan. Probably because it wouldn’t have been much of a stretch to have you or another friend call me up that afternoon & invite me to the show.

    I remember way too much about that night. I had Domino’s for dinner. I know this because I had leftover Cinnastix for breakfast while watching the coverage on CNN.

    I found out about it late that night, just before going to bed. I couldn’t go bed as the news started trickling in. Since we received Rhode Island local channels, I was able to watch the coverage first hand. The video footage from inside the club is one of the spookiest things I’ve ever seen.

    I also had to make a visit to the site. I too was blown away by how small the lot is. I can’t imagine the club, along with all those cars on that site. When you add in the chaos of the fire, along with all the emergency personnel, it was obviously horrific.

  4. Barb (bp) says:

    I remember hearing about it and feeling horrible about the families. Not to sound selfish.. but I am glad that you weren’t at the show.

  5. Sara says:

    Wow, I remember this pretty clearly. I can’t let myself read the links you provided, but I will do so when I’m less emotional. Thank you for bringing this up – it’s an important thing, and needs to be honored. (Sadly, in my little little world I remember the Law & Order that was made with this scene all too well, also).

  6. Each says:

    i too live close.

    my boy knew people there.

    in one of Chuck Klostermans books he has an interview and article he wrote (for Spin i think) where he talks to and hangs out with some of the survivors, its really poignant in a completely regular sort of way…

    (its either “IV” or “killing yourself to live”)

  7. JenBun says:

    I live completely across the country, and I remember hearing about this, on all the news stations.

    Thank you for reminding us all to remember…

  8. WOW! I so remember this! I remember the summer afterwards I had sailing instructors that has lost friends in the fire. It is so scary to think this could have been avoided! Thanks for remembering!

  9. CuriousC says:

    Terrible, terrible tragedy.

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