The Station, Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, The Station Nightclub burned to the ground, killing 100 people and badly injuring hundreds more. The wounds from that night in this community are raw, healing, but raw. Everybody knew somebody who was there, everybody has a story to tell about a friend, loved one or themselves, and how they just got out, or didn't.

The reverberations run deep. Victims, family, friends, first responders, hospital staff and the mostly forgotten part of the story, the people who told it. My friend, Bob used to be what we affectionately call a "ding." He loved the fire department, caught amazing images and video, and helped produce Code Red in 1990. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R8xZOj4o6k

I saw him the other day, asked why I haven't seen him around.

"The Station. I can't forget. All those people stuck in the door."

The haunted look on his face told more of the story than his words did. To say that that night is indelibly etched into the minds of this community is a gross understatement.

I wrote this story a while ago, another victim from that night.

 

"Don't you make fun of me!" she shouted at the super market customers who walked past her. People came and went, some gawking, some ignoring, some just glancing our way. A spilled gallon of milk rested between her legs, a bag of groceries sat next to her, filled with what she had planned to be the ingredients for a "nice night." A 1/2 gallon of ice cream, some steaks, a can of veggies and some boil in bag rice packages were supposed to be put together for her and her man. Fate intervened. "A friend" offered to "split a pint."

"Joann, why did you do it?"

"To kill my pain."

Last week I found her at Kennedy Plaza, unconscious at Bus Stop K. We get a lot of drunks there, usually homeless men, worn out from life on the streets. A blond, young woman stood out, even lying down. She stirred when I shook her but was unable to get up, or even get on the stretcher. We lifted her, she struggled. Somehow during the struggle her shirt and bra lifted, exposing her torso. 80% of her body had been burned, badly. Her breasts were there, but instead of smooth skin and nipples something that resembled wet particle board had taken its place. Any nourishment or pleasure that may have come from her body burned away.

She lay in the stretcher, covered now by a few sheets but still semi-conscious. I sat in the Captains Chair and watched her sleep. The fire spared her face, but her hair had to be carefully combed to hide the bald spots where the grafts prohibited new growth. She was pretty, troubled and scarred, emotionally and physically.

The people continued to stream in and out of the store. Normal people doing normal things. Things Joanne should be doing, rather than drinking a pint with another desperate soul at five in the afternoon.

"I have to take you to the hospital."

"Can't I go home?"

"You're drunk and high. I don't think so."

We helped her to the truck. She managed to stay upright in on the bench seat. She told me her address.

"Is anybody home?"

"My man."

"Will he be mad if I take you home like this?"

"A little."

They would have let her ice cream melt if I took her to the hospital.

And thrown away her dinner.

And her man would wonder where she was.

And I think she has suffered enough.

I took her home.

All the money in the world won't give back what was taken from the survivors of The Station Fire.

May they find peace, finally, and those who did not survive, may they rest in peace.

Thursday, February 20th, 2003

Louis S. Alves
Kevin Anderson
Stacie Angers
Christopher Arruda
Eugene Avilez
Tina Ayer
Karla Bagtaz
Mary H. Baker
Thomas Barnett
Laureen Beauchaine
Steven Thomas Blom
William Christopher Bonardi
Kristine Carbone
Richard A. Cabral, Jr.
William Cartwright
Edward B. Corbet III
Michael Cordier
Alfred Crisostomi
Robert Croteau
Lisa D'Andrea
Matthew P. Darby
Dina Ann DeMaio
Albert Anthony DiBonaventura
Rachel DePietro (Florio)
Christina DiRienzo
Kevin J. Dunn
Lori K. Durante
Edward Ervanian
Thomas Fleming
Rachael K. Florio-DePietro
Mark A. Fontaine
Chief Petty Officer Daniel Frederickson
Michael Fresolo
James Gahan
Melvin Gerfin
Laura Gillet
Charline Elaine Gingras-Fick
Michael James Gonsalves
James Gooden
Derek Gray
Pamela Gruttadauria
Scott "Skott" Greene
Scott Griffith
Bonnie L. Hamelin
Jude Henault
Andrew Hoban
Abbie L. Hoisington
Michael Hoogasian
Sandy Hoogasian
Carlton "Bud" Howorth III
Eric James Hyer
Derek Brian Johnson
Lisa Kelly
Tracy F. King
Michael Joseph Kulz
Keith Lapierre
Dale Latulippe
Stephen M. Libera
John M. Longiaru
Ty Longley
Andrea Mancini
Keith A. Mancini
Steven Mancini
Judith Manzo
Thomas Marion, Jr.
Jeffery Martin
Tammy Mattera-Housa
Kristen McQuarrie
Thomas Medeiros
Samuel Miceli
Donna M. Mitchell
Leigh Ann Moreau
Ryan M. Morin
Jason Morton
Katherine O'Donnell
Nicholas O'Neill
Matthew James Pickett
Carlos L. Pimentel Sr.
Christopher Prouty
Jeffrey Rader
Teresa Rakoski
Robert L. Reisner III
Walter Rich
Donald Roderiques
Tracey Romanoff
Joseph Rossi
Bridget Sanetti
Rebecca "Becky" Shaw
Dennis Smith
Mitchell Shubert
Victor Stark
Benjamin Suffoletto
Linda Suffoletto
Shawn Sweet
Jason Sylvester
Sarah Jane Telgarsky
Kelly Viera
Kevin Washburn
Everett "Tommy" Woodmansee
Robert Daniel Young

Sincere condolences to the victims, survivors and families.

2 Comments

  • Mr618 says:

    We just never learn, do we, Cap? After all the fire losses in nightclubs around the world, we still never learn.
    I was going to do one of my "This Day in Fire History" pieces, but instead, I'm going to link to this one.
    Much better than anything I could have done.

  • Ms Kelley Jarvis says:

    In respectful memory of the 100 angels, survivors and their families. Although I'm not from Rhode Island, I want to thank all firefighters, EMTs and police officers who assisted ten years ago tonight. Thank God for everyone who helps to save lives.

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Michael Morse

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Leckey Harrison
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Michael - I read your blog that ended up in UniformStories. I can relate, though to a lesser degree. I want to offer you a training (don't us firefighters love training?) that will enable you to release the stress that keeps you up at night. It will help reduce PTSD, trauma, and stress, and you…
2014-10-23 19:34:03
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We've already had this discussion, but I like the Grateful Dead version of Bobby McGee better than Janis'.
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I worked a 911 system where i told all my new emt. if the pt. has a fever vomiting and diarrhea they are contagious til proven different
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Once again, Michael, a simple, caring action probably helped more than any medical intervention.
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Michael, you have not lost your touch. :-) PS. Last time I rode in one of your "cadillacs", I was a pretty good girl. I only vomited a little bit. The blood stayed in a contained area. Aren't you proud of me? LOL. PS I thanked Stephanie and the other EMT too. Take care Buddy.…
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