Saturday October 20, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A "satellite memorial" to honor 100 people killed in a 2003 nightclub fire is scheduled be unveiled Saturday, just weeks after a yearslong effort to secure the site of the fire for a permanent memorial finally came to fruition.

The Warwick memorial being unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday is meant to honor all victims of The Station nightclub fire, with special recognition for the 10 victims from Warwick. More residents of Warwick died in the Feb. 20, 2003, blaze in West Warwick than any other town. First responders and survivors also will be honored.

The Warwick memorial will serve as a secondary place for relatives and survivors of the fire to reflect, said Jody King, whose brother, Tracy King, a bouncer at the club, died in the fire. A makeshift memorial of homemade crosses, photos, flowers and personal items has sprung up at the site of the fire over the years, and last month the owner of the site donated it to a foundation set up to build a permanent memorial there.

While many families of victims visit the West Warwick site regularly, King said some avoid it because of what happened there. He calls the Warwick memorial a "neutral place" where anyone can feel comfortable, especially the families of the victims from Warwick.

King was the driving force behind the Warwick memorial, which sits on city land and will be maintained by the city. Ground was broken on the Warwick memorial last month and it took just one month to build, a feat King said was possible only because of the many people who donated time and materials to the project.

Among the donations the Warwick memorial received were 20,000 pounds of asphalt, 12 to 13 yards of concrete and hours of labor by people who helped lay bricks and do other work, he said. King said he raised about $11,000 in cash, but many times that amount was donated in materials and labor.

The memorial will have a 28-foot-diameter brick circle that includes six granite benches, among other elements, King said. The names of the 100 people who died are etched in 8-inch-by-8-inch bricks, while the names of the 10 Warwick victims are highlighted on a tablet.

In West Warwick, work is proceeding on a permanent memorial at the site of the fire, said Gina Russo, president of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. Plans to build a permanent memorial at the site were hung up until Sept. 28, when the owner of the land donated it to the foundation.