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The Station: credit where credit is due

Ed Achorn had a strong column yesterday about the questions that remain unanswered about the February 2003 Station nightclub disaster, and he's right to give his employer -- the ProJo -- a lot of the credit for leading the quest for information about the deadly fire.

Why did Rhode Island, in stark contrast to Massachusetts after the Coconut Grove disaster (1942) or New York after the Triangle fire (1911), fail to demand accountability from its well-compensated officials — those responsible for protecting the public?

Why did it fail to ask officials, under oath, why the standing-room occupancy of the Station was dramatically raised, from 253 to as high as 404? Why did it fail to explore the reason 462 people were allowed into the club the night of the fire? Why did it refuse to ask how inspectors could have neglected to notice highly flammable foam all over the Station’s walls?

Yet today, once again, it's another news organization, the Associated Press, that is breaking news about the Station and its aftermath, this time with an Eric Tucker story (via the Boston Globe):

PROVIDENCE - The man who set off the pyrotechnics that sparked a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people will be released from prison on March 19, an official at the state corrections department said yesterday.

Daniel Biechele, the former tour manager for the rock band Great White, has been at the state prison since May 2006 for his role in the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick.

Besides the 100 people killed, more than 200 others were injured in the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in US history.

Biechele pleaded guilty two years ago to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter, admitting that he ignited the pyrotechnics without the required permit on the night of Feb. 20, 2003.

He was sentenced to four years in prison and will be released on parole after completing less than half of that sentence.

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