The Station Nightclub Fire Video (Rhode Island, 20th February 2003)

The Station Nightclub Fire Video (Rhode Island, 20th February 2003)

The Station was a nightclub catering to the fans of glam metal and rock’n’roll located at 211 Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick, Rhode Island, USA. On Thursday – February 20, 2003 – flammable foam pasted on the walls and ceiling of The Station caught fire after pyrotechnics set off to start the headlining band Great White ignited it.

The fire spread fast, completely engulfing The Station within 5 and a half minutes. Of 462 people inside, only 132 escaped uninjured. 230 survivors required hospitalization and 100 lost their lives, making The Station nightclub fire the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in the history of the USA.

The entire incident was caught on video. Cameraman Brian Butler was at The Station filming the event for WPRI-TV of Providence, Rhode Island. The footage was meant to be used for the program on nightclub safety. After headlining band Great White took the stage, their tour manager Daniel Biechele fired off pyrotechnics to start his band’s act off. The rest is history.

You can see from the video that cameraman Brian Butler noticed the fire early on and started wisely backing away. Most attendees didn’t do the same, quite possibly because they thought the fire was part of the act. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, by the time everyone realized that this wasn’t the act, the fire was quickly gaining hold on the nightclub and everyone panicked. The outcome of the panic was a mass of hundreds of concert goers trying to get out the same way they got in – through the main entrance.

There were all together 4 fire exits in The Station, but in the panic, people trapped inside instinctively turned towards the exit they knew, causing a major jam that kept them trapped inside. It’s hard to blame people on being desperate to get out asap, but as can be seen from the video, they made it all worse. Had they not pushed, there would be an outflow of people from the inside, but with the pressure on those partially out, the gateway was blocked resulting in no outflow.

The site where The Station nightclub tragedy took place is now an empty lot. Great White’s tour manager Daniel Michel Biechele – the person who set up and set off the pyrotechnics which caused the fire pled guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter – he basically took all guilt upon himself, which I can respect. His lawyer advised him against the plea, but Daniel Michel Biechele wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he cheated the legal system to get off easy and chose to take all the blame upon himself, apologizing to the victims of the families whose lives his actions ruined. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail, with four to serve and 11 years suspended, plus three years probation.

Michael and Jeffrey Derderian – the owners of The Station changed their plea from Not Guilty to No Contest, ultimately admitting their responsibility in the deaths of 100 people in their nightclub. Michael Derderian received the same sentence as Daniel Michel Biechele. His brother Jeffrey Derderian received a 10-year suspended sentence, three years probation, and 500 hours of community service. Not sure why one of them got of easier than the other.

The video of The Station Nightclub Fire that killed 100 people in Rhode Island is below:

This video is a 20 minutes long unedited version of the Station Nightclub Fire incident:

Author: Vincit Omnia Veritas

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78 thoughts on “The Station Nightclub Fire Video (Rhode Island, 20th February 2003)”

  1. where’s the sprinkles? and the fire extinguishers? it’s true it was the people’s fault because they jammed the exit and wtf? thought concerts were outside in a big open area only VIP concerts are closed sigh the causalities could have been lower to 10 if people weren’t so irresponsible 🙁

    1. I live 3 miles from where this trajedy took place. RI in general is a corrupt state to live in and every building inspector and fire marshall can be bought. There were so many glaring violations of building and fire codes in this building it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. The foam that caught fire was to reduce sound pollution to the neighborhood where it was located. It was supposed to be fire resistant which it was not. They just got the cheapest one. The fire exit door are supposed to open out towards the street if you are inside the club so that when you push on the door it opens. Because people were sneaking in the doors they were reversed by the club so that you had to pull them to open when inside. Once people started rushing for the exit doors they wouldnt open because you had to pull them in to open them, so everyone was trapped and died near these doors. The only way to get out was through the front door. This whole thing is a disgrace. They just had the building inspected a week before this took place, and these and many other violations were passed. An these 2 brothers that owned this place made all this club a death trap. They should all be burned to a crisp. Oh, the reason why one brother got a prison sentance and the other didnt is because he had a family and they didn’t wanted to punish his poor children. Thats how things work in Rhode Island. We are the only state to have elected a convicted felon to be Mayor of its capital city. If my family member had been harmed in this incident those bastards wouldnt be walking around pretending like they were sorry. They would be sorry.

        1. My daughter and her husband had intentions of going to the show but decided instead to go to Denny’s to eat. My son in law is the type of guy who would have wanted to stand up close to the stage. I am so grateful they changed their minds and didn’t go to The Station that night. My good thoughts and wishes to the families that lost loved ones that night. Peace to you all.

      1. DUDE! For real. I recorded Great White 4 times a few years ago, here in SoCal. That is, the 2 memebrs still alive. (when not in rehab). I got to know the basist especially. He’s a sad, sad (but good) man. He’s extremely meak now. He wouldn’t talk about it. Their new manager told me what really went down. He told me how the sound proofing foam was delivered wayyy too big for the club. That company fucked up the measurements. Those morons still put it up. It went behind the stage, up the wall, and curled over the fuckin stage! And, by the way, NO sound board/foam is fireproof. And you can’t spray it with fire retardent because it makes it hard and useless for it’s intended purpose. Sound waves will bounce off of it instead of absorbing it. This club was already dilapidated with cobwebs n shit. What a lot of people don’t know is, this club had a false ceiling!! It was for acoustic reasons. The building was very rectangular, creating horrible reverb. There was a 4ft wide opening into that space right above that stage; right above the curling over sound foam. When the sound board caught fire, flames went into that space between the false roof and the actual ceiling. It fermented like in the movie Backdraft. Very soon, as you can totally see in the video, a ceiling of fire came down on all those people. It’s fucken INSANE. I had no idea there was a video.
        Now, the real reason that one went to prison and the other didn’t is because one was the owner, but not there that night. The other was manager and was there that night. The allowed capacity of the building was just over 100 people. The manager let in over 300. He did it for PERSONAL profit!! He was gona pocket the proceeds, ripping off his own brother.
        Another thing that really sux is that Great White was treated like the villians. The band told their stupid manager they did NOT want to use the pirotecnics. They saw the dangers. The bands drummer died helping other people out. The guitarist made it out but went back in for a guitar. (dumb ass) He never made it back out. The remaining bassist and vocalist carry so much guilt even though it was really not their fault. The manager they had at the time is also serving time. It was his job to have the fire marshall check out the venue WITHIN 24hrs of the gig. He failed to do so. It’s my understanding that the fire marshall did not see the club with the sound board up. So…
        Anyway–that shit about your mayor is fuckin STUPID!

        1. The drummer didn’t die in the fire that night only ty longley died in fire. And in the book it said he saw a friend and told his friend who survived “let’s get out of here” but he never made it.

    2. I live literally 30 seconds away from where the building was. I was 3 years old when the Great Whites came to West Warwick, my parents were going to go but my grandmother didn’t stop by to baby sit me and my sister. That probably saved their lives. It’s weird to think one of my favorite actors ever Steve-o knows the club and is right near my house. It’s like he seen the smallest town with a small street and he’s been my favorite since I was little, but his joke during the Roast of Charlie Sheen made me very upset.

    3. OH, and lets give some credit where due. According to multiple surviving burn victims who attempted to exit one of these “fire exits” a bouncer stationed there barred these poor people from leaving as it was strictly for the band! This is when the place was lit with boyfriends pleading with this fuck that there is a fire. I hope this asshole either didn’t make it(I am sure he made it as soon as he got scared) or is reminded of the lives lost due to his stupidity.

      1. He got out, but his wife got burned badly and survived a short while. When he went to the hospital, he acted like an asshole, and was apparently drunk. He then showed up at survivor events and acted like a shit there too. His name is Scott Vieira. He sounds like he is a sociopathic shithead, and I have not heard of any survivors or family of those killed beating him to a pulp either. Someone should have when he showed up at the 1 year anniversary and acted like a lil shit.

  2. Luckily the nightclub owner was sentence and pay for his crime not like here the 1996 Ozone disco fire tragedy the owner got away by paying the victim’s family but its not enough for medical bill to all the one got injured.

  3. Assassinisher – what was the crime that the night club owner committed? Having to many people in the building? I don’t understand how there was a crime committed.
    If it was for the building or something wrong with the building, then the “building inspectors” that approved it for use, should be the ones in trouble.

    1. I’m not familiar with that fire, but the fire department does determine how many people in the building is safe capacity. If too many people are there then there isn’t a reasonable chance to escape from the fire by using the marked fire escapes.

  4. stupid fucks getting their freak on in a club. undoubtedly looking to get laid afterwards. well look at you crispy critters now. too bad chancho wasn’t in there as we would be free of his stupid comments on this board. i avoid crowds like the plague and live as a hermit for precisely this reason.

  5. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to walk out of a situation like that only to find out that 100 didn’t, and just knowing that a few more seconds of hesitation, and you would have been burned alive.

    Aside from the dipshit owner keeping fire escapes locked and the sloppy pyrotechnics work, the major cause of the fatalities was panic.

    1. I don’t know about Rhode Island’s fire laws, but in CA its illegal to lock fire escapes. There is a huge fine for it and criminal charges if something bad happens. I think it was more a matter of people not knowing where the exits were, and they panicked, which made the whole thing worse.

    1. Didn’t know that, I would think he got more than what he went there for. It seems callous, but through a camera lens, the photographer/videographer has to distance themselves from the actual horrible event so that the facts can be disbursed afterword.

    1. That pit in your stomach, the anxiousness, is part of the altruism of human and animal nature. It isn’t a pleasant feeling. I feel sorry for the victims and the witnesses as well. For those who like night clubs, be sure to find the exits the minute you go in. IMO there should be some sort of instruction when one passes through the door as a courtesy.

  6. Graugeist – the crime was they used fireworks without a permit (they would have never been granted a permit if they requested it, due to the danger factor, lack of fire sprinklers, etc).

    Look at the fools just standing around in frames 1:13 – 1:17, they did not take it seriously and were just standing in front of the entrance blocking it. People up close to the fire are fighting hard as they can to get out but these fools further away just stand there taking their sweet ass time, thinking they will get out when they feel like it.

    Plus it doesnt help that the entrance is blocked by a ramp so you cant just exit the building you have to go down the ramp in order to get out of the way. I would imagine lots of people passed out in that area because they get outside and are burnt so the first thing they do is drop to the ground when they get outside not realizing they are blocking the entrance since they are on a ramp.

    Even at 6:02 that guy on the ground is pretty much clear from the fire, but even with his distance he still gets in the way (not his fault however).

    Hard to believe the club owner when he said he didnt know they were gonna use fireworks because I doubt the band would just bring all them pyrotechnics for free, there had to be prior discussion about it.

    It seems all common sense went up in smoke that night as well.

    1. You’re right. When the video was at the front door by the parked cars I saw a dude with ash and soot all over him stroll by the camera with a look that said, “Fuck ’em- I made it out.” But I wasn’t there so who knows what he was doing.

  7. I go to alot of shows and ever since this happened, the first thing I do is find out where all the fire exits are and pick the closest one to a beer vendor and park my ass their for the rest of the show. I aint dying cause some scared assholes bumrush the front door.

  8. Even though the band manager did something stupid the management should have had a evac plan. They had to have bouncers there and some sort management. They knew where the exits are. They are responsible to help the patrons out. The band had no clue. So it is the manager’s fault. All fire departments require such a plan. No one followed it and the result is this mass murder.

    1. According to a woman that made it out, her and her husband were in the front & tried to get out at the closest exit. A bouncer wouldn’t let them saying it was for the band only. Her husband did not make it out that night.

  9. Ultimately the fault lay on the crew that set up the pyrotechnics. They were inexperienced. The band manager hired them at the last minute. This is why the manager didn’t try to whine his way out of jail. He accepted the guilt but he wasn’t the sole cause of the fire. He has to live with that for the rest of his life, and I can tell you for fact that he feels horrible about it. On this one I have an industry source, so I know that this is the truth. It does make me think of such clubs differently, and no matter what I’ll locate the exits when I walk in the door.

  10. This was actually horrifying. I could feel the terror just from watching it, imagine BEING there. Must have been terrifying being stuck in the doorway. Feeling the flames creep up behind you. The people in front of you listening to you screaming but unable to help, knowing their next in line for the fire to engulf. Fires gotta be the worst way to go. I’d take a beheading over immolation any day.

  11. so, what happened with the lead guitarist? why wasnt he able to get out with the rest of the band thru the back door? thats pretty sad.. 🙁

    but what the fuck was the owner of the place thinking, letting mother fuckers set off pyros in that tiny ass venue. THAT is how the owners are to blame.. reply to whoever it was up there bitching about the “building inspectors” being the ones at fault.. im sure the owners didnt tell those guys they were gonna let these shitty bands do that. they prolly would have told them “you are fucking stupid”

    sad times.

  12. PS re the guy on fire shot at 6min mark…where was the cameraman’s zoom? Missed opportunity for THE SHOT!

    I’m a documentary maker and it would have pissed me off to have missed that chance despite wailing ‘oh the humanity!!’ etc etc

    1. I’ve been trying to find out if that person made it or not. 3 people died later at hospitals within 2 weeks or so, and another after a couple months or something. Some survivors were really badly burned, like Joe Kinan, but he was stuck in the bottleneck at the door and pulled out later after the firefighters go their hoses in there. I never find any mention of the person on fire coming out the door and who they are/were.

  13. PPS They say the lead guitarist got fried? Well I bet that was because he tried to get his beloved geeeetar out with him. I mean, the drummer’s not going to take his drum kit, the lead singer his mic and the bassist..well who gives a shit about a bass guitar anyway? Dump the fucking stuff and get outta there. Fool must have been the cause of his own demise.

  14. @ 1:47 a man breaks a window and jumps out. @ 5:28 you can hear people inside screaming, crying and calling for help at the same area of windows. Why the FUCK didn’t the guy recording try to help them out?! BREAK THE DAMN GLASS AND HELP THEM OUT YOU STUPID FUCKER! That just makes me furious! To stand there and do nothing but record, it’s just fucken sad! He could’ve saved some lives right there!

  15. that really sucks for them, I feel bad. I choked on BBQ smoke before but I cant imagine being choked continuously with smoke and not to mention all the different materials and substances in there producing hazordus smoke. In the Name of the Father and The Sun and of The Holy Spirit may Peace be with you.

  16. Nailed it, basically said everything i had to say.

    You were right about the doors, but weren’t they locked/chained on top of it? (might be getting stories mixed up)

    I mostly blame the owners of the club. I could go on forever about it, but basically they should have been up to the fucking safety codes. NONFLAMMABLE sound proofing, doors that open OUT (and unlocked for then, or doors that only lock once you go out and the door closes.). I’m sure they just figure they’ll save a few bucks, skimp on some basic safety rules…what could happen right? Well there’s a damn reason they have laws like that, they aren’t just out to piss people off with useless safety precautions.

    I can’t think of any reason why the band should be responsible. They were just doing their thing, plus pyrotechnics are done indoors all the time. That’s what they have people that check out all the legal/safety/etc shit for them, in advance. And the only reason i’d see one of them being partially blamed is if he either didn’t check about the area of the pyrotechnics (i.e. flammable ceilings), or the nightclub owners told him that it’s a deathtrap and they can’t do pyrotechnics, both of which i’d find hard to believe.

    so ultimately, it’s on the nightclub owners.

    this tragedy is especially chilling since my dad almost went that night, but his license was going to be suspended that night. Still wanted to go though, even though he didn’t want to risk it. (especially since we are in MA so it wasn’t like it was down the street.) Ended up falling asleep with the tv on, then woke up a bit later to see that the nightclub he ‘should’ have been at was engulfed in flames with people perishing inside. christ, i wouldn’t know if i should shit or wind my watch if that was me.

    Anyways, RIP to the fallen. my heart is with those traumatized. on a lesser note, but still relevant, it’s awful that Great White with not only always be synonymous with this tragedy, but even blamed for it in some cases. The club owners should have to, as punishment, be taught how to built houses/buildings to STRICT SAFETY CODES, and i mean ridiculously strict. Then have to build them (for charity, etc.) like that. If they don’t get it right down to the nails being the right angle, then they have to dismantle it and start the fuck over again and get it right.

  17. There is an audio recording recovered off the body of one victim that includes the time after the fire for several minutes. It was worked on by an expert with the ATF to get it to play, then digitally recorded. I can’t find it online. Anyone have it or know where to find it? It has screams of the dying and then nothing but the sounds of crackling and popping of the fire. Oh yeah and I was told at ogrish that some gore site once had a pic of the bodies piled in the doorway, but then the pic was gone.

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