The Station: Night club owners speak out for first time over deadly blaze

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Owner of The Station Nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island It marked the first time since 20 February 2003 when the club was engulfed in a fire in which 100 people were killed and over 200 were injured.

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Three men were indicted, including owners Jeff and Michael Derderian, of one of the deadliest nightclubs in American history. The owners now say that there are parts of the story that have not been told.

On February 20, 2003, at around 11 p.m., the rock band took to the stage at Jack Russell’s Great White Club as tour manager Daniel Beechley fired four fireworks known as the Jerbs, which quickly set the entire nightclub on fire.

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Jeff Derderian says he and a staff member grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran on stage.

“We tried to go as far as we could. We couldn’t make it,” he explained CBS 48 hours.

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A bottleneck ensued as frightened patrons tried to exit through the front entrance. Exactly 90 seconds after the fire started, the club filled with black smoke and trapped people in the building.

The third person to be charged after a nine-month investigation was tour manager Daniel Beechel, who, along with Jeff and Michael Derderian, were each charged with 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter.

They all entered into a plea deal, in which Beechley pleaded guilty to 100 counts of misdemeanor homicide and Jeff and Michael Derderian pleaded no contest on 100 counts of misdemeanor homicide. In the end, Beechley and Michael Derderian end up in prison.

“We wanted the whole story to come out … and people who want … come to their own conclusions on what happened that night,” said Jeff Derderian. CBS In the brothers’ first extensive TV interview since the fire broke out 18 years ago.

The brothers said they had ordered foam to soundproof the club, but were unaware that they had received a packing foam instead that was highly flammable. The band has stated that they were allowed to use the fireworks, but the owners pushed back this claim when speaking to CBS.

“These contracts are very specific,” said Michael Derderian. “So, I guess … that the pyrotechnics provision will be there … like we need, you know, 12 M&Ms, I mean, you know, and they need to be brown.”

Former Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, who led the investigation, said: “I don’t think anyone would want anything like that that someone would die or be injured that night. But does that mean this crime? No? The answer is no.

“I think it’s pathetic, disgusting and disturbing to think that they are still speaking out,” he said.

“You know, a day doesn’t go by that we don’t think about it in some way, shape, or form,” Jeff Derderian Told the CBS program.

Many fire survivors struggle to forgive the owners. Linda Saran suffered severe burns to more than a third of her body, spent weeks in a medically induced coma, and ended up with permanent scars.

“They’ve said they’re sorry… but they never say, we’re screwed… If they stood up and said, small business owners, we were inexperienced. We took shortcuts. We messed up.” Granted. I will forgive them in a heartbeat,” she said.

Jodie King lost her brother Tracy but said she didn’t think it was just the owners who were responsible.

“They blamed three. They should have blamed more… there are more people who should be held responsible,” he said.

Mr King told CBS That his brother, a bouncer, “trusted the club. He trusted the owners. He trusted his friends”.

“We never knew the full story because the trial never happened, so everything never really came out,” he said.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Rhode Island

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