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  Survivor Recounts RI Club Fire 


02-22-03 antiGUY
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The following letter was Posted to one of our message boards by Beautiful Creatures guitarist Anthony Focx.   The letter was written by George Dionne, a freelance writer for RockRage.com . George was one of the survivors of the club fire at the Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island last Thursday night. 
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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 500-700 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

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