The Providence Journal reports that Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux has approved the destruction of more than 700 pieces of evidence recovered from the site of the Station nightclub fire and the closure of the Cranston warehouse where all of the items have been stored for the past seven years.
No decision has yet been made as to where, when or how the evidence will be destroyed or what the cost will be. But the costs of the destruction will be borne 50/50 by the victims of the fire and the defendants who contributed to a $176-million settlement of the personal-injury cases filed in the wake of the catastrophic blaze. One hundred people died as a result of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire on Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick, and more than 200 were injured. It was the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.
Some of the fire victims have expressed a desire to tour the warehouse at 225 Macklin St. before the evidence is removed from the site, but it is unclear whether they will be allowed to do so.
In approving the closure of the evidence warehouse, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux said in a written order that he would maintain jurisdiction over the repository “until such time as it is fully closed and the evidence destroyed, and all costs are paid by all parties responsible for the maintenance of the warehouse.” The site has cost $2,500 per month to rent. The plaintiffs and defendants have equally split that expense. The victims’ share has been subtracted from their settlement checks.