Some of those teams had to be sent back as many as five times. So it took a toll on first responders that really was not reported too much. There were a lot of victims of this fire that weren't out at the club that night.
OK. THAT'S WHAT WE WERE LEFT WITH. LET'S REWIND AND LEARN ABOUT THE CLUB. THIS WAS ONCE A RESTAURANT AND THEN A ROADHOUSE. WHAT HAD IT MEANT TO RHODE ISLAND UP UNTIL THIS POINT?
MARILYN BELLEMORE: Since the fire, over the years, I've been reading stuff about how West Warwick was a low-income, rundown mill town, the bar was a dive and has-been bands played there.
If that's true, which it's not, what does it say about the people that were there that night?
I wrote, as an entertainment writer for several papers, and I went to venues from southern Rhode Island, up to Boston, Worcester, and all of that. And this club just had something different about it. It wasn't has-been bands that went there. There were bands like 10,000 Maniacs that played there, there were hair bands, there were bands that once played to arenas — Dave Davies from the Kinks.
It was just a fun place. You could sit by yourself alone, no one would bother you. You could sit by the bar. You could go in the back. You'd know people there — people from all over. People from Boston came down. It's unusual. Some people from Rhode Island didn't even know the club was there. And then, there were people coming in from Connecticut and Boston and New Hampshire.
TELL ME ABOUT THE CROWD THAT GATHERED AT THE STATION IN THOSE DAYS.
JOHN: It was the heart of Rhode Island. The demographic was a little older than some of the downtown clubs. It was people who came from all walks of life — from construction to a budding investment banker. They had in common their love of the music. They wanted to see the band.
Whether you were going to see a band that was now touring second- or third-tier venues or you were going to see a tribute band, you were going to get your money's worth. There's a fellow who fronts the tribute band Believer, it's a Black Sabbath tribute band and he said, "You know, the average working stiff can't afford a $100 ticket to Black Sabbath. But for $15 and the price of a couple beers, I can pretty much convince them for a little while. So everybody makes out OK."
The one thing that the group had in common is that all the victims were utterly blameless. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time and several other people's greed and carelessness cost them their lives or their health.
GINA, YOU SHOWED UP AT THE STATION THAT NIGHT WITH YOUR FIANCE, FRED CRISOSTOMI. TELL ME ABOUT HIM AND WHERE YOU WERE, AS A COUPLE, AT THAT MOMENT.
GINA RUSSO: We met on a dating web site nine months before the fire and had been together every day from the moment we met — never separated, never had an argument. Just an incredible man, incredible force of nature. He was a very successful businessman. He owned a painting business, really worked hard to get to the level he was at. He was very proud of what he had achieved.