Transcript - Night Club Fire - NBC News - February 24, 2003

Nightclub Tragedies
NBC News
February 24, 2003

13:22 - 15:35

Reporter: In Depth tonight: Finger pointing, but no clear answers in the investigation into that deadly nightclub fire in Westworick, Rhode Island. There is a vigil scheduled underway to remember the 97 people who lost their lives, the second memorial of the day. Amid the memorials and grief, investigators are asking hard questions. They claim they are not getting the answers they need to pinpoint exactly who, or what was to blame. NBC's Carl Cantanea reports tonight.

Carl: The memorials, both impromptu and elaborate. Tonight, the first official remembrance of Rhode Island's victims, with residents here focused on their sadness, state officials focused on the cause. Deploying two hundred fire inspectors to assess night club safety, the Rhode Island investigation apparently being hampered by what police call an unwillingness to cooperate. While one of the clubs owners, Jeff Drederian, has defended the club in public, officials say his brother Michael refuses to answer questions.

Jeff Drederian: Obviously we are devastated by what has happened here. We want to cooperate in any way we can, provide any information we can.

Carl: Rhode Island Attorney General, Patrick Lynch.

Patrick Lynch: I remain hopeful that they will cooperate, both Jeffrey and Michael, with the law enforcement agencies as much as they have cooperated with the press.

Carl: The probe is now zeroing in on acoustic foam, similar to this. Samples of it were recovered inside the club, in some cases it is so flammable, experts compare it to gasoline. There is no mention of the foam in the station fire inspection report from November of last year, even though inspectors spotted other troubles, like faulty exit doors, problems that were later fixed.

Gov. Donald Carcieri: If your question is, did we miss something in an examination or an inspection, yeah, we are going to look at that.

Carl: That may not be enough to fend off victims attorneys, now planning a host of lawsuits.

Ken Moll: It could be the manufacturers of the soundproofing. It could be the manufacturers of the pyrotechnics that were used. It could be the city.

Carl: A growing mix of legal battles against a backdrop of grief.