- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 2, 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 2 (UPI) — Hospital officials on Sunday confirmed that a woman burned in the nightclub fire in Rhode Island has become the 98th person to die because of the blaze.

A total of 96 people died the night of Feb. 20 when a fast-moving fire swept through The Station nightclub in West Warwick. The blaze was apparently started by pyrotechnics, used by the band Great White, that ignited sound-proofing materials.

The latest death was a woman who was being treated at a Boston hospital. A person died Friday because of injures suffered in the fire and more than 30 others are listed in critical condition Sunday, 11 days after the fire, local media reported.

Rhode Island officials have convened a grand jury, which had its first sessions last week, to look into the fire. Band members have said they had permission to use the pyrotechnics while the nightclub's owners said no such rights were granted.

Also at issue is the type of sound-proofing material used in The Station. The material used has been found to burn extremely quickly and give off toxic gases when ignited.

While no exact figure was available, there appeared to be more than the posted limit of 300 people in the club at the time of the fire.

The fire started as Great White began its first song of the appearance about 11 p.m. and set off sparkler-type effects toward the back of the stage. The pyrotechnics set material on the back wall on fire and the blaze quickly spread. Witnesses said that within three minutes the building was entirely in flames.

A fire official at the scene the night of the fire said bodies were "stacked like cordwood" near the club's main door as people died trying to escape the fire.

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