Brazil blaze recalls pain for RI fire survivorsBy STEPHEN SINGER
The Associated Press | January 28,2013AP PHOTO
A woman cries over the coffin of a victim at a gymnasium where bodies were brought for identification in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Sunday. Flames raced through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing more than 230 people as panicked partygoers gasped for breath in the smoke-filled air, stampeding toward a single exit partially blocked by those already dead.Argentina, a year later. Thailand in 2008. Russia in 2009.
For survivors of a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire that was one of the deadliest in U.S. history, the fire in Brazil that killed hundreds Sunday is the latest in a series of reminders that no matter how far away, those who ignore the lessons of their tragedy can pay a horrible cost.
On a cold night in February 2003, the rock band Great White took the stage at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I. During the show, pyrotechnics set fire to flammable soundproofing foam that lined the walls and ceiling, killing 100 and injuring 200.
Over the decade since, survivors have come together time and again over news of similar disastrous fires overseas.
“We’re very tight,” said Todd King, one of the survivors. “You can’t put into words what we saw.”
He said he was woken up Sunday morning by a storm of text messages from others who survived the Rhode Island fire, asking, “Can you believe this is happening again?”
“I’m surprised nobody has learned,” he said.
In the year after the Rhode Island fire, a flare ignited ceiling foam at an overcrowded nightclub in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 194 people.
Indoor fireworks were blamed for a fire at a club in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve 2008 in which 66 partygoers were killed.
And another indoor fireworks display at a nightclub in Perm, Russia, ignited a plastic ceiling decorated with branches, killing 152 people in December 2009.
In Rhode Island, the Station fire brought about sweeping changes to the state’s fire code with one intent: Never again.
Sprinklers are now required in nightclubs and bars with occupancy limits of 100 or more, nightclub workers must be trained in fire safety and more money was set aside for fire safety classes in schools.
Rhode Island also banned pyrotechnics in all but its largest public venues and local fire marshals were enabled to order immediate repairs and write tickets for violations.
Eagan said the changes were necessary in Rhode Island.
“I wish it would spread to other countries,” she said.
A deadly blaze overseas does not seem so distant because of the Rhode Island tragedy, Eagan said.
“It’s a tragedy that hits close to home,” she said. “It’s maddening to see it happen again.”MORE IN Wire NewsSTOCKHOLM — Swedish poet and Nobel Literature Prize winner Tomas Transtromer has died at age 83,... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.