Club Fire in Rhode Island

  • No doubt you've all seen the footage of the horrible fire at Great White's show in Rhode Island last night. Jack Russell, Mark Kendall and the band were moments into their first song when the walls behind them caught fire from the short burst of pyro at the beginning of their set.

    Mark is a friend of Glenn's, and played on the Blues album a while back.

    GW guitarist Ty Longley is still missing.

    Glenn, if you read this I hope you're able to talk to Mark Kendall. If you do, please pass along the thoughts of those of us on this board.

    Cheers..Todd S

  • I've seen the news. My heartfelt sympathy.

    'You thought that you could take me for granted, but I couldn't take it no more. Better run if you see me coming ... '

  • This is horrible!!! 96 poor souls so far and it could be more. I think the most startling thing to me is that within 3 minutes the whole building was engulfed in flames and thick black smoke. People can point at the band all they want but a building go down that quick......You either saw right away there was a problem and got out or you didn't get out.....Very sad


  • Check out these first hand reports. Not for the squemish. This is from


    Saturday, February 22, 2003 - Great White Update / More music news below.

    Hi folks. The bad news keeps rolling in doesn't it? We have all had several hours to digest what exactly happened last night in Rhode Island, but it doesn't help in trying to comprehend why it happened and how it could have been prevented. 96 souls have paid the highest price possible for their love of music.
    That will come in time and I'll continue updating when and where possible.
    I've worked through a stack of e-mails and have a few sent in to print below. Many others are offering prayers and asking how they can help.
    As I said earlier, it always hits harder when it's your own community that is hit. That goes for all rock fans and the folk of Rhode Island.
    There will be a way we can help the families and friends of those killed and you can count on that info being passed on to you here. If anyone has any ideas or has something in motion already, contact me.
    The very least that can be done is signing a condolence book. I'll do what I can to ensure these comments reach the families of these dedicated rock fans.
    I sent 2 parties along to the show with tickets. One, George e-mailed in his thoughts, which are printed below.
    The other is long time site regular and friend to many in the melodic rock community, Joe Lobianco. Joe has fortunately made it out, but remains in ICU on a respirator but apparently should be off it by tomorrow. He has 2nd degree burns to his hands, but they should heal on their own. Sadly, his mate who took in the show with him has not yet been located.
    My prayers and those of all site readers are with Joe and every single person affected by this.

    Sign The Rhode Island Tragedy condolence book now

    An appeal for financial support has already been started by a local bank.
    Centreville Savings Bank/West Warwick Municipal Workers Fire Relief Fund
    Attention Cindy Joaquin
    1218 Main Street
    West Warwick, RI 02893
    (Make checks payable to Fire Relief Fund)

    Additionally, blood donations are needed by the American Red Cross of Rhode Island, who are helping victims and their families.

    Here are some of the e-mails and updates sent in:
    Andrew, We are simply devastated by the news and events here in New England over the past day.
    As a physician here in Boston, we are accepting a large number of casualties from the Rhode Island show. The hospitals in Rhode Island simply overwhelmed, and the patients are too sick. There are 18 admitted so far, and almost 20 more expected thru the weekend.
    I was sickened all day.
    If it weren't for the fact that the band was going on stage at 11pm, and I had to be at work at 6am, I would have been "front row".
    I feel as if I was the guy who missed his flight, and found out that the plane went down, after take-off.
    Anyways, as a loyal reader of the site, and a follower of the bands your publicize, I want to share my thoughts, and concerns.
    The news here in Boston is covering the story all day and night. They are noting this as the 4th worse disaster in US history.
    Thanks again, Tony

    My name is George Dionne. I was at the Great White show on February 20th at The Station in Rhode Island. I would like to share with you my personal account of what can only be described as a tragedy. I warn you that my descriptions may be upsetting, but it affected me immensely. I was standing approximately 5 rows back from the front of the stage. If you've seen the video footage, I was one step behind the camera man as the tape begins. The band took the stage around 11PM. A small fireworks display ignited. It was a fan-like display. It lasted about 10-15 seconds. When it died down I could see that the back wall had started to catch fire. The walls that surround the stage area were covered with a foam, egg-crate, sound-proofing material. At the site of the first flame I knew something was wrong.
    I made my way towards the only exit I knew of, the front door. The exit was approximately 50-70 ft. away from my position. I could hear people laughing and cheering at the flames, I assumed they thought it was part of the show. I was yelling at people to get out the door as I made my way out of the club. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the flames had shot up the sides of the walls and was now engulfing the ceiling. It was spreading FAST! At first the crowd was calm, but as the flames spread, I found the space around me shrinking. People were now panicking and rushing for the front door. The club was filling up with toxic smoke as I cut a sharp left to get out the door. I could not see anything at this point. I began choking on the smoke. I could not see the exit, but I knew it was in front of me. The flood of people finally pushed me through the door. I made my way to the parking lot.
    I looked back and saw the stage section of the club engulfed with flames. The other half of the club was filled with black smoke. I could hear people screaming and windows breaking. I saw people breaking the windows and diving out. I returned to the building to help get the people out. When I returned to the front door, I could not believe what I was looking at. There were 35 or so people stuck in the door way. They were stacked in rows on top of each other, at least 7 rows high. Black smoke was pouring out above them. You could see that there were people behind them as well.
    A small group of people were pulling at the people in the pile to try and move them. I jumped up on the ramp and grabbed an arm. I pulled and pulled with all my strength just to try and move them. There were others helping me, but we could not move anyone. The smoke was getting really think and starting to choke me. I continued to pull. The smoke was just too much for me, I had to let go of the arm. It was the toughest decision I had to make and I am still trying to cope with it. I stepped away from the building as I watched the smoke start to cover my view. It was at this point I dropped to my knees and prayed. I not as religious as I could be, but I needed to do it. I thanked my God for saving me. I prayed for the people still trapped inside. As I got up to leave, I saw the most horrifying image.
    The flames had made there way to the door way. The people on the top of the pile were on fire. There was nothing anyone could do for them. I watched as the fire grew around these poor, helpless people. I broke down right there. I could see them suffering and there was nothing I could do. I left the club as the Fire Department arrived. I did not want to get in their way. I drove down the street, but had to pull over, because I was so distraught. I called my wife and told her how much I loved her. I called everyone that I love and told them that I loved them. I spent the whole night thinking about what had happened. I did not sleep. Everytime I thought about it, I cried. I shook all night. I still shake a little as I type this. It upsets me everytime I repeat my story. I regret so much that I could not help more. However, I am so glad to be alive.
    I know it people say it all the time, but I ask that you remind your loved ones how much you love them. You really don't know if it will be the last time you see them. I feel blessed that I have a loving family and dear friends. I do not blame Great White or The Station for what happened, it was just a tragic accident. I can only image the grief and suffering that these people are going through. My prayers are with the injured. My prayers are with the families of those who did not make it. I am comforted in knowing that the deceased are in a better place.
    George Dionne

    A second e-mail from Todd King:
    Andrew thanks for thoughts.
    We have been a mess all day with no sleep reliving last evening. My first thoughts are have your readers that you know of being there get out ok other than the ones on your page?
    And surprising after contacting the police, TV 10, and the posting on your site as well as a lady who we were asked to call at the Red Cross hotline so they could figure the head count no one has mentioned that security was a main cause of the pile up at the front door which probably only got worse. Literally 90 seconds to my car to the phone to the front doors and the last seconds of the infamous tape now is actual time from beginning to the total engulfing of the place in flames.
    I am stuck with the thought that roughly 80% of the crowd were seriously injured or killed and we walked out without a scratch because my wife was paying attention.
    And by some miracle we had just returned to our place from the restrooms as if one minute either way we would be separated and neither would have left without the other. If you see the reports people were in the bathrooms seeking refuge and calling the police on cell phones.
    The scene at the front door was something you would see in a horror movie and the people in the footage are people we saw all evening at the venue.
    One person had a picture of a relative on tv and that man was literally within a foot of us as we exited. He is missing and the thoughts are troubling on thinking about. People not leaving when we did thinking the fire was a stage prop.
    My wife made it loud and clear and people around us heard her and did follow us out which is a small comfort that some people may not have been watching what was unfolding and her warning may have at least helped one person or more get alarmed and move out.
    When I got the injured people to the restaurant I saw things I wish I never did while trying to help. There were people with the skin burned off of there bodies, people in disbelief and horror screaming for friends, a woman screaming in pain who had children.
    One positive I recall though is right as I returned from the restroom I saw a cocktail waitress who had been working all night in our area and was really sweet and polite.
    I ordered two beers off of her and watched as she walked into the heart of the club to get them. As we were at the restaurant helping out I had just taken off clothing and started passing it out when I tuned and she walked in. I was so relieved and seems that it was some sort of message as I would have been the reason for her leaving our area and possible evacuation into the hardest part to escape from. The guilt would have been hard to take and her getting out was nothing short of a miracle.
    Andrew unfortunately we both thank god we got out but also have the question of how the hell we got out without a scratch. This will trouble us for the rest of our lives with the guilt of just being able to walk away without injury while so many others died. Even trying to help leaves little solace in the fact that so many died in such a short time in such a horrible way.
    Our prayers also go out to not only the victims but to Jack as it seems that the politicians have now started lining up and the media is starting to lay the blame wherever they can. I will attest to the door issue and also that the Kiss tribute band that plays there does the fire breathing trick in the place. The thought he must have is that all these people came to see the band and how little the management did to secure the place no matter what went on in there with the props. The place went to black immediately even before we got out. People panicked because they couldn't see and no one was paying attention to alert the crowd. No one was working the front of the stage and where the hell was the fire extinguishers. The fire alarms went off but they were just not very loud for a place with loud live music.
    Jack was who we saw trying to put the fire out and if you see the video it seems that TY jumps down and goes to the right as the rest of the band goes to the left and out the door.
    The EMS and fire department were there within two minutes of the call I made. We can only pray that they can recover from what they saw in the minutes after arriving and removing the lost souls in that hell hole.
    One last thought, my brother and I were speaking today about all the shows we have seen. Clubs the same size or smaller have had more pyro than this club had last evening. I used to work security at clubs all over Northern Massachusetts. I am also a life long music fan and recall bands such as Warrant, Vince Neil and especially Ace Frehley doing much more in small venues. Friggin Ace Frehley shot rockets over the crowd and blew up his guitar in a club called the underground so these types of things are not uncommon. The blame seems to be starting to be one sided but most clubs are covered with anti flame material and painted with flame retardant paint as well.
    Sort of a blow out room quality in the stage area not just for the bands bringing props but to protect everyone inside. Whatever the sound proofing was made of was a disaster waiting to happen. It attracted the flames and combusted as if covered in gasoline. No inspector would have allowed that kind of material to stand in a night club.
    You cant even get pajamas that aren't flame retardant never mind place it as a covering in a night club with hundreds of peoples lives involved.
    Also if the other clubs starting to complain now were so upset why wasn't Great White informed of this until after something occurs like this. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    Hi. I just noticed your board with information on this. Feel free to link to our site, as well We are part of the same company as, but we have our own coverage there, so people can find different information. Our TV side, WCVB-TV, sent practically every reporter it has there, because it is so close to us and many patients were flown to Boston, which has some of the best burn care in the country. So with our link and the others, it might help people get a more complete picture.
    Kirk - Video Footage (Windows Media) - Video Footage (Real Media) - Statement from the Club Owners

  • Nearly a week's gone by and I'm afraid I still can't get my head around why anyone would want to set off fireworks in a wooden building. Yes OK hindsight etc but you know to be honest words fail me. I really feel for all involved including Jack, Mark and the boys. It's just tragic but I think you know what I am saying. Fire and wood? Just confused that's all.

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