Update: 96 Killed At Great White Concert, Guitarist Still Missing.
The fire started when flames from the band’s pyrotechnics display ignited the ceiling above the stage. Fans in the audience at first thought it was part of the show but panic broke out once the fire quickly spread and filled the nightclub with dark smoke causing patrons to rush towards the exits.
Flames consumed the entire club within three minutes, said Fire Chief Charles Hall. Fans rushed to the front entrance to the club instead of the fire exits and many became trapped in the burning building. "They tried to go out the same way they came in. That was the problem," Hall said. "They didn't use the other three fire exits."
Because of the panic, the heavy smoke and the speed in which the blaze spread many patrons did not have a chance to make it out of the building.
Hall told the Associated Press that the nightclub had recently passed a fire inspection but they did not have a permit to use pyrotechnics because the venue did not have a sprinkler system in place.
"All of a sudden I felt a lot of heat," Jack Russell, Great Whites frontman, told CNN. "I see the foam's on fire. The next thing you know the whole place is in flames."
Russell told local television station WJAR-TV that he checked with the club's manager before the show about the band’s use of pyrotechnics and was given approval to use them.
Guitarist Ty Longley is still missing hours after the fire. This hits home for antiMUSIC since Ty was a regular guitarist for the allstar jam band Happenin’ Harry and the Haptones, which performs every Sunday night at Happenin’ Harry’s Hellhole at the Cat Club in Hollywood. antiMUSIC has been sponsoring Harry’s shows for almost a year and have had writers on hand for many of Ty’s appearances.
“I’ve been up all night watching updates, making calls trying to find out if anyone has heard anything, hoping for news that Ty is alright,” Harry told antiMUSIC. “I just want my buddy to be alright.”
“I hope he’s ok,” says antiMUSIC’s editor and publisher Keavin Wiggins. “I don’t know him well but he is one the nicest and funniest guys I have ever meet. He would have us rolling as he cut up on the sidelines at Harry’s shows doing his imitation of CC Deville, ‘Play some Slaughter! I want some Cherry Pie,’ he would yell in his mock CC voice, knowing full well the band would never play those songs. ”
Ty’s family and friends are hoping for news that he is safe. His girlfriend Heidi told fans on Ty’s website (tylongley.com), “I know in my heart Ty is getting better in a hospital somewhere and he'll be home soon! Thank you all for the letters and love you have shown Ty.”
Jeff, the webmaster of Ty’s website advises fans, “Nothing official has been released in regards to the passing of Ty. Until further notice this is all rumor and such talk should not dampen our hope. Indeed, we all should pray and hope for the best. Our thoughts are prayers are with Ty, Heidi and all involved in this nightmare.”
All of us antiMUSIC wish to offer our condolences to those who lost someone in this terrible tragedy.
Update 4:45 PM PST 2-21-03
95 are now confirmed dead. Ty Longley is still missing. Looking at the video footage of the fire breaking out slowed down it appears that Ty jumped off the front of the stage and did not exit on side like the rest of the band.
Update: 2-22 11:00 PM
96 people are confirmed dead and 180 injured; As of Saturday, 65 people remained hospitalized, more than a dozen critically. A woman who has not yet been identified is being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital's burn unit.
As of Saturday afternoon 15 victims have
been positively identified. The medical examiner's office said they plan
to use dental records, fingerprints and DNA to identify the other victims.
It may take days to complete the task.
The following is a list of people confirmed dead whose names have been released.
Andrew Hoban, 22, North Kingstown
Dale Latulippe, 46, Carver, Mass.
Stephen Libera, 21, hometown unknown
Katherine O'Donnell, 35, Seekonk, Mass.
Robert Reisner, 29, Coventry, RI
Bridget Sanetti, 25, Coventry, RI
Dennis Smith, 36, Pawtucket, RI
The following is a list of people confirmed missing by family members who spoke to The Associated Press.
Robert Croteau, 31, Fall River, Mass.,
Dina DeMaio, 30, West Warwick, The Station waitress
Michael "The Doctor" Gonsalves, 40, WHJY-FM disc jockey
Michael Joseph Kulz, 30, patron
Ty Longley, 31, Great White guitarist
Steve Mancini, The Station employee
Andrea Mancini, The Station employee
Derek Gray, 22, Dracut, Mass., patron
Michael Hoogasian, 32, Cranston, RI
Sandy Hoogasian, Cranston, RI
Donald Roderiques, 46, Mashpee, Mass.
Bonnie Hamelin, 27, West Warwick, RI
Three funds have been set up by a West Warwick, RI banks to aid victims and their families.
If you would like to contribute any amount of money to the fund, please mail a check or moneyorder to one of the following:
Station Fire Victims Fund
c/o Citizens Bank
56 Rolfe St.
Cranston, RI 02910
The Station Fire Victim Fund
Centreville Savings Bank
1218 Main St.
West Warwick, RI 02893
Rhode Island residents can make a donation at any RI branch of Fleet Bank.