To the Editor:
I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but from the photos, the new memorial dedicated to the victims of the Station Nightclub fire will be a magnificent, peaceful place to honor the memory of those who perished in that horrible fire. Finally, after the hard work of many generous people, the city and state have a public place to remember the horrific events of the night of Feb. 20, 2003 when exactly 100 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.
There are simply no words in the English language to express the abject horror of this kind of tragedy. To offer sympathy, understanding, consolation, there are never the right words. There never will be. It takes a silent testament to something that affected so many people’s lives. In silence nothing is said, yet everything is understood. After the tears and misery and pain, there is one thing that can be said for certain that there has never been any justice for these 100 souls.
The Station Nightclub had been inspected six times by the West Warwick fire inspector with the highly flammable foam already in place prior to the fire. That’s SIX times and no action was taken. The legal occupancy was increased and no reasons were given. And yes, the hapless road manager for the Great White band, Mr. Daniel Biechele, did go to prison for a time for setting off the pyrotechnics that night, something that had been done by others many times before at the Station Nightclub.
During the Grand Jury investigation, then Attorney General Patrick Lynch did his very best to stonewall the Grand Jury and prevent any serious questions of the fire inspector to be asked. In the end, the Grand Jury gave up. Mr. Biechele went to jail.
And so on it went until we arrive, nine years later, in Apponaug on a sunny Saturday in October to honor the memory of exactly 100 who perished in one of the worst fires in American history.
Did they die in vain? No. Many regulations have since been added to the fire code in order to prevent such a thing ever happening again. But then, there were regulations already in place to prevent such a thing ever happening at all.
If fire inspectors do not inspect public buildings looking for hazardous material, the potential for overcrowding and insufficient exits in order to prevent massive loss of life due to fire, then what on God’s green earth do they do?
Rest in peace 100 innocent, trusting souls. You never received justice, but you do now have a noble memorial to honor the meaning and worth of your lives, thanks to the hard work and love of wonderful and generous people.
Maybe this is the most important thing.