The Station nightclub fire occurred beginning at 11:08 PM EST, on Thursday, February 20, 2003, at The Station, a glam metal and rock n roll themed nightclub located in West Warwick, Rhode Island, United States; it is considered to be the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in United States history, killing 100 people, four of whom died at local hospitals. The fire was caused when pyrotechnic sparks, set off by the tour manager of the evening's headlining band Great White, ignited flammable sound insulation foam in the walls and ceilings around the stage, creating a flash fire that engulfed the club in 5 1/2 minutes. 230 other people were injured and another 132 escaped uninjured. Video footage shot at the time of the fire depicts patrons frantically exiting the building.
The fire started about 11:08 PM, just seconds into headlining band Great White's opening song "Desert Moon," when pyrotechnics set off by the band's tour manager, Daniel Biechele, ignited the building's flammable soundproofing foam. The pyrotechnics were gerbs, cylindrical devices that produce a controlled spray of sparks. Biechele used three gerbs calibrated at 15 by 15, which spray sparks 15 feet for 15 seconds. Two gerbs were at 45-degree angles with the middle one pointing straight up. The flanking gerbs became the principal cause of the fire when their sparks hit the soundproofing foam on both sides of the drummer's alcove at the rear of the stage. The flames were first thought to be part of the act; only as the fire reached the ceiling and smoke began to billow did people realize it was uncontrolled. Twenty seconds after the pyrotechnics ended, the band stopped playing, and lead singer Jack Russell calmly remarked into the microphone, "Wow...this ain't good." In less than a minute, the entire stage was engulfed in flames, with most of the band members and entourage scurrying for the west exit by the stage.
By this time, the piercing shrill of the fire alarm had made everyone acutely aware of the impending danger, and although there were four possible exits, most people naturally headed for the front door through which they had entered. The ensuing stampede in the inferno led to a crush in the narrow hallway leading to that exit, quickly blocking it completely and resulting in numerous deaths and injuries among the patrons and staff. Of the 462 in attendance, 100 lost their lives, and about half were injured, either from burns, smoke inhalation, or trampling. Among those who perished in the fire were Great White's lead guitarist, Ty Longley, and the show's emcee, WHJY DJ Mike "The Doctor" Gonsalves.