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Memorial to open for victims of Station nightclub fire

PROVIDENCE — A ‘‘satellite memorial’’ to honor 100 people killed in a 2003 nightclub fire is scheduled to be unveiled Saturday, just weeks after a yearslong effort to secure the site of the fire for a permanent memorial finally came to fruition.

The Warwick memorial was being unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday. It is meant to honor all victims of The Station nightclub fire, with special recognition for the 10 victims from Warwick. More residents of Warwick died in the Feb. 20, 2003, blaze in West Warwick than of any other town. First responders and survivors will also be honored.

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The Warwick memorial will serve as a secondary place for relatives and survivors of the fire to ­reflect, said Jody King, whose brother, Tracy King, a bouncer at the club, died in the fire. A makeshift memorial of homemade crosses, photos, flowers, and personal items has sprung up at the site over the years, and last month the owner of the site donated it to a foundation set up to build a permanent ­memorial there.

While many families of victims visit the West Warwick site regularly, King said some avoid it because of what happened there. He calls the Warwick memorial a ‘‘neutral place’’ where anyone can feel comfortable, especially the families of the victims from Warwick.

King was the driving force behind the Warwick memorial, which sits on city land and will be maintained by the city. Ground was broken on the Warwick memorial last month, and it took just one month to build, a feat King said was possible only because of the many people who donated time and materials to the project.

‘‘Something like this normally doesn’t happen in 29 days,’’ he said Friday.

Among the donations the Warwick memorial received were 20,000 pounds of asphalt, 12 to 13 yards of concrete, and hours of labor by people who helped lay bricks and do other work, he said. King said he raised about $11,000 in cash, but many times that amount was donated in materials and labor.

‘Something like this normally doesn’t happen in 29 days.’

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The memorial will have a 28-foot-diameter brick circle that includes six granite benches, among other elements, King said. The names of the 100 people who died are etched in 8-inch-by-8-inch bricks, while the names of the 10 Warwick victims are highlighted on a tablet. Likenesses of nine of the ­Warwick victims will be etched into the tablet.

In West Warwick, work is proceeding on a permanent memorial at the site of the fire, said Gina ­Russo, president of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. Plans to build a permanent memorial at the site were hung up until Sept. 28, when the owner of the land donated it to the foundation.

Russo said the foundation is working with designers, laborers unions, and construction companies to develop a feasible design for the memorial. They hope to have a design approved within the next month or two, she said. They are working off a previously approved design that would have required expensive maintenance.

She hopes to have a groundbreaking in the spring, shortly after the 10th anniversary of the fire, ­although the groundbreaking could be earlier if the winter is mild.

The foundation hopes to raise $5 million over five years to build and maintain the memorial.

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