WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island — People affected by a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people marked the fire's 11th anniversary on Thursday with private gatherings and personal reflection.
The Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick was started when the rock band Great White set off pyrotechnics at the start of their set. The sparks set fire to flammable foam that had been installed as soundproofing at the club. More than 200 people were injured.
A public memorial ceremony was held on Sunday in Warwick.
Chris Fontaine, whose son, Mark, was killed, stopped by the site of the fire Thursday morning and left roses in the chain link fence that now surrounds the site. The site was closed in the fall to prepare for construction on a permanent memorial, and a makeshift memorial of handmade crosses and mementoes has since been removed, leaving the land mostly empty.
Fontaine said it was a bit strange this year to see the site barren, but that it is also a sign of hope.
"We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we're so, so looking forward to seeing the memorial completed," she said. "This is our way of keeping their memory alive of these 100 people that died. It's our biggest fear that they be forgotten. It's important that people remember what happened there."
The Station Fire Memorial Foundation, which is working to build the permanent memorial, is planning to start construction once the ground thaws. It has estimated the memorial will cost $1.4 million to build and maintain, and has had trouble raising money, with just $200,000 in the bank last week. It hired a professional fundraiser last week to help.