WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Flowers and mementos in hand, more than 200 friends, family and survivors gathered Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire that killed 100 people and injured hundreds more in 2003.
"It is indeed a day of remembrance; it's also a day of hope and future," said Sarah Mancini, whose son Keith was killed in the blaze.
During the ceremony, all 100 of the victims' names were read aloud, which was followed by 100 seconds of silence to remember those lost.
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The fire started when the band Great White set off pyrotechnics that ignited flammable soundproof foam in the nightclub. The ceremony's organizers announced plans to build a permanent memorial on the Cowesett Avenue property, which was donated by owner Raymond Villanova.
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The Station Fire Memorial Foundation hopes to break ground on the memorial later this year.
"We all have the same mission and that is to honor our 100 angels," said Gina Russo, who survived the fire and now serves as the president of the foundation.
The 75-minute ceremony took place in bitter cold temperatures and followed a weekend snowstorm in the state, but the elements did not bother who came to remember their loved ones. The event included a speech from Gov. Lincoln Chafee and a rare public appearance from former Gov. Don Carcieri.
"I know that even ten years on, your grief can sometimes feel as fresh as it the first time you heard the awful news," Chafee said.
Carcieri, who had been in office for less than two months when the fire took place, recalled how the entire state came together following the tragedy and recognized the first responders and hospital workers who helped save so many lives.
"At a time of our state's worst tragedy, in some senses, it was our people's finest hour," Carcieri said.
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