WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Station Fire Memorial Foundation received a significant boost Monday for their campaign to build a permanent memorial on the site where 100 people lost their lives more than 12 years ago.
As the parking lot of Twin River Casino filled up over the past three weekends, members of the Lime Rock Fire Department were also there passing around a boot. They were able to pull together $11,600 in donations, which was presented to the foundation Monday.
“My chief, Frank Sylvester, mentioned to us, ‘you know the Station Nightclub is something that is dear to the hearts of firefighters,'” said Lime Rock Deputy Fire Chief Todd Tucker. “He said ‘what would you guys think about doing that?’ and we were all in.”
Renderings of the Station Fire Memorial Park show a lush, green space for reflection, but right now the space is mostly occupied by weeds. Volunteers hope to soon break ground on the project after receiving final approval from the state in December.
Gina Russo survived the fire and has been championing the effort to build the memorial, saying it’s a big step forward for a fire department to raise money specifically for those plans.
“You don’t move on, and my job is to honor the 100 that died, and that’s what I will do,” she said. “I got lucky enough to survive, and my job is to honor the 100.”
Russo, who serves as the foundation’s president, said victims and firefighters have largely worked independently since the disaster.
“They witnessed so much that night that it was hard for them to see any of us, so to have them come and contact us and say ‘hey, we want to do this,’ that was really big. In my world as a survivor – that was really big,” Russo added.
The foundation said they’ve so far raised more than $500,000 of their $2 million campaign goal.