For many Rhode Islanders, time will never completely heal emotional wounds from the deadly 2003 nightclub fire at The Station in West Warwick.
The blaze sparked by pyrotechnics killed 100, injured twice as many and led Rhode Island to adopt one of the nation’s toughest state fire codes. Locally, the blaze also marked the end of the town’s connection to the region’s live-music scene – until now.
Jim Vickers, an entrepreneur who’s worked in and managed several Providence clubs, has opened Manchester 65 in an old mill on the Pawtuxet River. In a Newsmakers interview on Page 4, Vickers says he did so because demand for live music that led The Station to be packed with so many people that deadly night is still there.
He’s tried to quell fears about safety by exceeding code requirements for his sprinkler system and exit planning and continues to work closely with local fire officials.
Time will tell if Vickers is right about the local music demand. But both he and town officials are to be commended for working cooperatively to get a business open both might have easily found reasons to avoid.
In so doing, they may also help the community take another small step in the ongoing healing from one of the state’s worst tragedies. •