The Station Fire Video

May 7, 2012 by

Whoa.

I didn’t see much news back in the day, and completely missed the Rhode Island Station Fire in 2003.  But thanks to The Berkey Guy’s Blog, I just watched the below video.. and.. whoa.

Just some thoughts, once you get past the shock of it all.. in no particular order..

  • Our camera man escaped fast. He took one look at the fire and bolted for the door, while the other party-goers took more time to process. His speed saved his life.
  • At the exit, people were literally piled on top of one another in their hurry to escape. I can imagine the feeling of being on the bottom, with people crushing you from the top, burning building and flesh in the background, sheer panic in your heart… Men were trying to pull them out of the pile from the outside, but they weren’t moving nearly as fast as I thought they would be. Maybe they thought they had more time. Maybe they were too drunk to really realize… but they saved some lives, but over 100 died inside.
  • Drinking crowds your senses. If you can’t think and if you don’t have all your faculties about you, you’ll die in a situation like this.  Clarity is your friend.
  • The building burned SO fast.  There’s a clock on the video… do all buildings go that fast? Holy crap.
  • Find alternative exits. Most folks headed for the main door down a narrow hallway. If they had tried the back, or a window, they might have made it.
  • Outside, in the parking lot, you can hear people crying in desperation for their friends. I hope they found them, but odds are that they did not.  There were 430 people in the club, and 100 fatalities.
  • Outside, people just… milled around. I would have expected more bolting away from the scene, especially when the transformer started to spark. As if being near a 200 foot high flame wasn’t enough, you’d think they’d clear the scene. But I think they were in shock.
  • A man rushed out of the burning doors, on fire, in front of our camera man. I wonder if he survived.
  • The fire department arrived faster than I expected, yet.. also slower than I expected. I guess when you are watching a building burn and people run screaming out of the flames, time moves slower. Even when they were there, they never ran. They walked. I imagine that was to ensure their own safety (or sheer weight of equipment). It took them a few more minutes to start triaging and herding people around (I need to work on my mass casualty incident voice – I wouldn’t be heard at all above that din – something I’ve never considered before).
  • Our camera man sat on the ground for a moment or two. I think he was recovering his wits, and pulling out his cell phone. You can hear his phone conversation. He works for a news agency, and was rapidly telling them the chilling tale of what he had just witnessed. The worst irony of all is that he was there to record a piece on night club safety…

What would you do differently?

2 Comments

  1. Rhode Island Chick

    I lived in the neighborhood at the time of the fire. I just have to say that it was horrible, just horrible. My daughter was out on a date that night, and thank God she and her boyfriend didn’t go there that night. I bought my car at the car lot next door. My kids walked right by it on the way to school. I knew some of the families that lost their kids in that fire. The whole thing was just horrible. The lot you see at the end of the video doesn’t even show you how SMALL the place was. It’s the size of a house lot. Just teeny tiny. And they jammed over 400 people in there, and this is what happens. Such a shame, a real shame.

  2. GeniusBoy

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Station_nightclub_fire for the rest of the details. They never went after the inspector. They should have.

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