February 20, 2013
Station Night Club Fire: Tenth Anniversary and A Grotesque Footnote To It
Ten years ago occurred the horrific and completely avoidable fire at the Station Night Club in West Warwick.
Far from being held accountable, the person most responsible for the one hundred deaths and two hundred injuries, West Warwick Fire Inspector Dennis LaRocque, was actively shielded by then Attorney General Patrick Lynch for what can only have been vile political reasons. As though that were not outrageous enough, by the way, Mr. LaRocque was subsequently promoted - that's right, the FIRE INSPECTOR on whose watch occurred the fourth worst night club fire in US history was actually promoted - and then retired on a tax-free disability pension. (WPRI's well timed reminder yesterday of the exact nature of Mr. LaRocque's retirement is much appreciated.) Yes, indeed, thanks to Patrick Lynch, the Station Night Club Fire Inspector was held above justice and now is living large on the taxpayer dime.
It is important to note the method by which Patrick Lynch shielded the Fire Inspector and subverted justice. Firstly, he steered the Grand Jury away (scroll down the link) from indicting Fire Inspector Denis LaRocque and then, in a craven act of cowardice and dishonesty, hide behind "their" decision.
"That's what the grand jury returned," said AG Lynch to a query. "I can only do what they say."
Secondly, Attorney General Lynch allowed everyone else involved to plea out (in the process, hanging Judge Francis Darrigan out to dry in a most cowardly fashion.)
See, an indictment of Denis LaRocque or the absence of a plea deal for the others would have led to a trial. And above all, Attorney General Patrick Lynch could not risk a trial of anyone involved in fire because then the truth would have come out and that would have gravely endangered his political protegee, Denis LaRocque.
The result of Patrick Lynch's energetic legal maneuvering on behalf of the fire inspector, however, is that vital questions with regard to the Station Night Club fire remain unanswered:
> Why did Fire Inspector LaRocque fail to uphold Rhode Island's fire code by permitting the highly flammable foam to remain on the wall? Was he not trained properly (doubtful) or was he depravedly careless and indifferent?
> Did he see the foam or not? (Mr. LaRocque gave diametrically conflicting statements on that point to the Grand Jury.)
> Instead of shutting down the night club for this (deadly) code violation and others, why did Mr. LaRocque repeatedly twist and break Rhode Island's fire code so as to increase the "permitted" occupancy of the premises to patently unsafe levels?
Now, we learn from WPRI that Patrick Lynch, he who so successfully fended off truth and justice in the aftermath of the Station Night Club fire, will travel to Brazil to "assist" in the aftermath of the horrendous night club fire in Santa Maria on January 27.
This is surreal.
As Dave Kane correctly notes here and elsewhere, Patrick Lynch's sole expertise in the area of night club fires is obfuscating the truth, coddling the guilty and subverting justice.
Will he now be inflicted on another set of victims? It is to be fervently hoped that Brazilian authorities do not permit this to happen. Let them give him a paper-shuffling job in a back office for a couple of days, have him stand in front of some cameras (his favorite part of any job) and then pat him on the head and send him away. "Nice job, Mr. Lynch! Thanks for your help!"
One set of fire victims victimized again by Patrick Lynch is already too many. Let's not make it two.