RI marks 11th anniversary of Station nightclub fire
Eleven years after The Station nightclub fire, there's still no permanent memorial at the site in West Warwick.
But the foundation in charge of building one is hiring a fundraising firm to help raise enough money to finish the project.
The foundation hired Daniel Barry and Associates to help raise the money needed to build a permanent memorial. According to the firm's website, Barry helped raise money for Special Olympics Rhode Island, The Prout School, the National Civil War Memorial and the University of Rhode Island.
"We've got a little over $200,000 in the bank," survivor Gina Russo said. "But it's not enough to build, to complete this project."
The Feb. 20, 2003, fire started when the band Great White set off pyrotechnics at the start of their set. The sparks set fire to flammable foam that had been installed as soundproofing at the club. More than 200 people were injured.
Russo lost her fianc in the fire. She now works to build a $1.4 million permanent memorial to honor him and the 99 other people who lost their lives. She does this by serving as the president of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation.
Russo said the group spent about $5,000 to hire Barry.
"It will be far less than what he's going to raise for us," she said. "It's worth the investment."
The foundation could lose the land if a memorial isn't built before 2017 or if it doesn't have enough revenue to maintain the site. In either of those situations, the land would revert back to the family of Ray Villanova.
Not many families visited the West Warwick site Thursday. Most marked the deadly fire this weekend. But Donna Micchelli of Bridgewater missed the service. So she drove from Massachusetts to release balloons in memory of her step-daughter, Karla Bagtaz.
"Alright Karla, this is for you," she said. "You miss her every day, but sometimes it doesn't seem real at all."
Micchelli said she hopes a fundraising firm can help make a permanent memorial a reality.
"It would be awesome to be able to come to a beautiful memorial to remember her," Micchelli said. "She was a beautiful person."
Russo said she hopes with the firm's help, West Warwick could see a permanent memorial in six months to a year.