All victims recovered from rubble of nightclub fire
Rhode Island governor: 15 bodies identified
WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island (CNN) -- Fire investigators have recovered all of the victims from the rubble of a Rhode Island nightclub, and forensic pathologists are working round the clock to identify the 96 victims of Thursday's deadly fire, Gov. Don Carcieri said.
Fifteen people have been identified, Carcieri said Saturday, and 25 pathologists are en route to West Warwick to help.
He said "there's just no way of knowing" how long it would take to identify all of the bodies. In response to a public request, dentists in the area have been offering dental records to help match the bodies with a list of missing people. DNA and fingerprints might also be used.
At least 187 people were treated at area hospitals, the governor said. He said 19 people were transferred to Boston burn centers, including two women who could not be identified. One woman was identified Saturday, and the other's identity is still unknown. More information on the unknown woman, including personal belongings in her possession, might be made available Saturday evening.
Carcieri said no additional victims died overnight at any Rhode Island facility.
The fire started about 11 p.m. Thursday at The Station concert club, as the 1980s rock band Great White was beginning its show. Video shot in the club shows the band's pyrotechnics display igniting soundproofing material behind the stage. (More on band)
West Warwick Fire Chief Charles Hall said the racing fire engulfed the wooden structure in less than three minutes.
He said three exits in addition to the front doors had battery-powered exit lights, but people couldn't see them.
"The reason for the total darkness was the density and the intensity of the smoke that was produced by the burning materials ... the panel, the soundproofing, suspended ceiling and so forth," the fire chief said.
Most of the victims were found crowded together at the front door, Hall said.
Some of those victims died from smoke inhalation and others were trampled, he said. There were also groups of people found in the back bar area and the restrooms, Hall added.
One of the band's guitarists, Ty Longley, was among the missing.
"The whole place got tons of black smoke. We were breathing black smoke," clubgoer Lisa Shea told CNN on Friday morning. "I got knocked on the ground. People were standing on my back, my head. I was holding my head, and I said, 'I'm going to die here.' All I could think about was my mother, and I said, 'I got to get up. I got to get up.'" (Survivors' stories)
Dispute over permission
Friday saw a day-long exchange of claims from the club owners and the band about whether the group had permission to use a pyrotechnic display during the concert.
Attorney Kathleen Hagerty, representing club owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, said the brothers were not aware such devices were part of the show.
"At no time did either owner have prior knowledge that pyrotechnics were going to be used by the band Great White," Hagerty said in a written statement. "No permission was ever requested by the band or its agents to use pyrotechnics at The Station, and no permission was ever given."
Earlier, the club's stage technician also said he was not aware of Great White's plans, but the band's lead singer said the group would not have lit the indoor fireworks without the club's permission.
"Obviously there was some sort of miscommunication," Jack Russell told CNN. The pyrotechnics"are not something we do at every gig. Our tour manager set that up with the club." (Full story)
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch said Friday that authorities were investigating, but he refused to speculate on what, if any, charges would be filed.
Hall said the band or the club would have had to get a permit and a license from the state fire marshal and the local fire department to use such devices. There was no indication anyone had applied for such permission.
He said the club's building, which was built in the late 1950s, was not required to be fitted with sprinklers because of its age, but it did have a fire alarm -- which went off -- and the required number of fire extinguishers and battery-powered exit lights. (Nightclub dangers)
It was the second fatal incident at a U.S. club in recent days. Monday, 21 people died and more than 50 were injured in a nightclub stampede in Chicago, Illinois, that apparently began when a security guard used pepper spray to break up a fight. (Latest on Chicago incident)