- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

WEST WARWICK, R.I., March 3 (UPI) — The father of the 98th victim of the Rhode Island nightclub fire has raised questions about who knew that pyrotechnics were to be used, the Providence Journal reported Monday.

The owners of The Station rock concert club have denied they were aware the heavy metal band Great White planned to use the fireworks that touched off the Feb. 20 fire.

However, John Richmond of Warwick said his daughter, Kelly L. Vieira, 40, of West Warwick, went to the club that night only because her husband told her there would be fireworks.

Vieira, a mother of two girls, died Saturday at the Shriner's Burn Center in Boston of burns suffered in the fire, raising the death toll to 98, the fourth worst nightclub fire in U.S. history in term of fatalities. She was the second hospitalized victim to succumb.

"She didn't like the band. She didn't like the music," Richmond told the Journal. "She went there just to see the fireworks, hear one song and go home."

He said his daughter learned about the planned fireworks from her husband, Scott Vieira, who is friends with Kevin J. Beese Sr., the club's manager, and was working that night as a bouncer.

Scott Vieira was among those who escaped the fire.

Richmond's claim the Vieiras knew beforehand about the pyrotechnics contradicts comments from club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian.

They and other club workers have said they were surprised by the pyrotechnics, which apparently ignited highly flammable foam used as soundproofing on the walls and ceiling.

The Derderians have said they didn't give the band permission to use the fireworks, while the band claims it had permission.

Richmond said he first learned that his daughter was at The Station expecting to see fireworks when he went to the scene that night.

"When I first saw Scott there, I asked him what was going on," said Richmond. He said his son-in-law told him his daughter only planned to stay for the fireworks and one song.

Meanwhile, more than 50 people suffering from burns and smoke inhalation as a result of the fire remained hospitalized Monday, more than two dozen in critical condition.

A grand jury investigating possible criminal charges was expected to resume taking testimony this week.

The leader singer of the Great White, Jack Russell, was expected to testify, as was band guitarist Mark Kendall.

As church bells tolled for each of the 98 victims Sunday in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, a memorial service and funeral were held in Hubbard, Ohio, for band guitarist Ty Longley, 31, who died in the fire.

Many of the more than 450 mourners wore black ribbons inscribed in silver, "Rock on, Ty."

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