It’s been 15 years since the tragic fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick. One hundred people died on February 20, 2003, when a pyrotechnic display during a concert by the band Great White ignited the plastic foam soundproofing in the club’s walls. One of the deadliest nightclub fires in US history, the event earned national coverage and led to changes in fire safety codes. Here at home, it left a scar in the hearts and minds of all Rhode Islanders. Now, after years of planning and fundraising, Station Fire Memorial Park has been completed and is open to the public.
Built on the site of the Station nightclub on Cowesett Avenue, the memorial is a moving tribute to the victims, their families and the first responders. A lovely stone entryway welcomes visitors to a quiet garden where several short stone daises – which resemble vinyl records, a nod to the fact that the victims had come to celebrate and share their love of music – are surrounded by black stone plaques etched with the names and faces of those who died in the fire. At the back of the park is a small shelter where a timeline charts the moments that led to the blaze, the immediate aftermath and the years that followed, ending with the memorial’s completion. In all, the space is a lovely work of public art and a fitting memorial for the victims and their families. Within the greater context of our state’s history, it’s not only a sobering reminder of how quickly and severely tragedy can strike, but of how a community can come together, even in the worst of times.