WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Thursday marks the 17-year anniversary of the Station Nightclub fire that left lasting scars on numerous families and the state of Rhode Island.
The Feb. 20, 2003 fire claimed the lives of 100 people and injured more than 200 others after pyrotechnics sparked the massive blaze during a Great White concert.
A memorial park now occupies the space on Cowesett Avenue where the club once stood, a place where friends and families of the victims, along with survivors, go to remember those lost.
It was completed in May 2017 and dedicated to those impacted by the fire.
Dave Kane, the father of the youngest victim, Nicholas O’Neill, says the tragedy feels like it just happened just yesterday.
“It’s important for people to remember today though not just because the loved ones who have passed or were injured. This was supposed to be a monument to remind state officials, local officials, elected officials what happens when you don’t do your job. People die,” Kane said. “As people drive by, they should be reminded to do the right thing and make sure the people that we hire, do the right thing.”
Kane says he and his family miss Nick as much as ever, but they’re not shy to say they feel his presence. The reminders are constant, involving a certain number, 41, Nick’s favorite and lucky number.
“Forty-one isn’t just a reminder of Nick, it’s to let people be reminded that their loved ones, whatever has happened to them, however they passed, are still with us,” Kane said.
He added that everyone affected by the tragedy has their way of remembering the victims each year.
“We want him to know that we keep him as part of our family always,” Kane said. “That is what the other families are doing, we don’t need a memorial to remember them, we have them in our hearts always.”
A formal ceremony is in the works for the 20th anniversary of the fire.