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Now 96 Dead; Reporter Caught the Whole Thing on Tape

The number of deaths in that nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, has been raised to 39. Apparently, a local news videographer was there acquiring footage for a report on nightclub safety, and he caught the fire as it began. The local Fox news station's server is clearly overwhelmed, but here's the video (the fire scene starts around 2:25).

(Note: Apparently, the WPRI Web site isn't enabled to stream video in Netscape, so you'll either have to Save Target As or use Internet Explorer.)

The casualty total is up to 54. God rest their souls.

Here's a CBS RealMedia file with some additional footage of the escape. Funny, the announcer says it was a CBS camera on the scene, but WPRI Eyewitness News is "Fox Providence."

The death toll is now up to 60. The tragedy is made so much the worse by the ever-increasing numbers. It hardly compares in scale, but I can't help but remember the cautious relief, even amazement, as the September 11 total continued to decrease as people were accounted for.

96. The search is now on for family and friends are who haven't found loved ones. The magnitude of this is starting to hit home; nobody ever wants to find himself in a situation like this:

About 100 people gathered at a family support center set up at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick by the Red Cross. Grief counselors and clergy members were on hand.

One father got some good news at the hotel: He went there for information about his missing daughter and learned she was safe.

"Her father was here and we were able to tell him she was fine, `Go call your wife,' and everybody cheered," said Nick Logothets, director of disaster services for the local Red Cross.

The relief, and yet the guilt, looking around at the hopeful faces around the room. It's such a foolish reason for so many people to die. The club owners deny granting permission for the use of pyrotechnics. I'd guess that it's probably just something to which nobody in that business gives much thought. Back when I used to go out to such concerts, I was often surprised at the size of the explosions that were allowed.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 08:51 AM EST