US nightclub fire victims lament deadly Romanian blaze

AP News
|
Posted: Oct 31, 2015 6:36 PM
US nightclub fire victims lament deadly Romanian blaze

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (AP) — Survivors and families of victims of a deadly nightclub blaze in Rhode Island over a decade ago said Saturday the tragedy in Bucharest, Romania, was sadly and eerily similar.

"It's so very similar. It makes me sad," said Claire Bruyere of Warwick, whose 27-year-old daughter Bonnie Hamelin died in the 2003 Station nightclub fire in West Warwick. "I don't even want to think about it too long."

The Station fire, one of the deadliest nightclub blazes in U.S. history, was started by pyrotechnics during a concert for the band Great White. One-hundred people were killed and 230 were injured.

Similarly, the Friday blaze at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest was sparked by pyrotechnics that were part of a heavy metal band's performance. The fast moving fire and ensuing stampede at the Goodbye to Gravity metal band's show claimed the lives of at least 27 people and injured 180 others.

"This makes me sick," Victoria Eagan of West Warwick, a Station fire survivor, said in Facebook posts describing the fires as "eerily similar."

"Will we never learn?" she wrote as she sent prayers to the Romanian victims and their families. "Too much ... this needs to stop. I am so sad."

Others who lost children in the Rhode Island fire said they're disappointed that nightclub owners and concert promoters apparently still ignore basic fire safety regulations and put profit before patrons. The Station fire prompted stricter building fire code laws in Rhode Island.

"I just don't get it. People think this isn't going to happen to them," said Dave Kane of Johnston, Rhode Island, whose 18-year-old son Nicholas O'Neill perished in the Station fire. "But it's always the same. Nothing has changed."

Survivors also pointed to other deadly nightclub fires in recent years, including a 2013 blaze that killed over 200 people and injured about 600 others in the city of Santa Maria in southern Brazil.

Chris Fontaine of Johnston, the mother of 22-year-old Station fire victim Mark Fontaine, said she tries not to become too caught up in the latest tragedies because of the painful memories they inevitably trigger.

"It still feels like yesterday," she said. "And these things always bring it back to the forefront."