The morning after this fire in February 2003, I remember clearly waking up and seeing Jack Russell on CNN describing what happened. It was clear right away that this was the most serious accident caused by someone in my industry in my life time (followed, tragically, in more recent years by the Indiana collapse tragedy, about which I wrote extensively). At the time (before I was writing this blog), I was teaching our Health and Safety class at City
Tech, and I followed the events from The Station carefully as they unfolded, and used the disaster as a lesson in class. Wikipedia has a pretty good write up of the tragedy, but, basically, the band's manager set off pyro directly into flammable foam used (incorrectly) as sound absorptive material on the back wall of the small stage. The manager who stupidly and illegally shot the pyro and the club's owners who installed the non fire retardant foam were both convicted. You can watch a gut wrenching video of the fire here (a TV station was shooting in the club that night), and you can also read here how, in Minneapolis at the Fine Line Cafe, a nearly identical pyro-caused fire took place but everyone got out just fine because of good decisions by the staff and a sprinkler system.
One of the things that struck me in visiting the site last week is how small the place was:
The site has now been turned into a make shift graveyard and memorial:
I think this was the most moving memorial for me:
A documentary by David Bettencourt is supposed to come out for the 10th anniversary next year:
And I'll leave you with this chilling NIST recreation of the fire: