WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) -- On the tenth anniversary of the tragic fire that claimed 100 lives, many New Englanders are finding themselves reflecting on that unforgettable night.
Father Robert Marciano, a pastor at St. Kevin's Church and the chaplain to the Warwick Police and Fire Departments, was one of the first responders to the scene. Upon his arrival, people were already running out of the club and firefighters, some without waiting for oxygen tanks, were already running in.
"I cannot describe the heroics," Fr. Marciano said. "The place was an inferno - they were rushing into it. The building was collapsing, and they were trying to people out."
"After all the briefings, I told them they earned their whole pay for their careers in one night. Because of what they witnessed and the brave acts they performed and what they will carry with them for the rest of their lives," he added.
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100 people were killed that night, with at least 200 more leaving the scene injured. It also left many first responders scarred for life.
"We had fatalities, emotionally from firefighters and police officers who just couldn't go back and witness what they did, and we understand that," said Fr. Marciano. "I don't think I drove by the scene for years. If I had to go somewhere in Coventry or West Warwick, I would go around."
As a religious figure, Fr. Marciano has spent years answering this question: Where was God on this tragic night?
"That question comes up when bad things happen to good people," he said. "The answer I always give, He was right there, suffering alongside these poor victims, and He was certainly there when we were helping families, firefighters and police officers."
Fr. Marciano said he hopes that families will be able to heal knowing their loved ones are in a better place.
"We have hope that God is with us and, for those who are Christian, death is not the end," he said. "I told families, your son or daughter will always be young."
Copyright WPRI 12
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