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Club, band dispute permission to use fireworks

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Dominic Santana, owner of the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, said Great White had used pyrotechnics without permission during a show last week at his club.

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News footage from inside a Rhode Island nightclub captures the instant that a rock band's pyrotechnics ignited a deadly fire and celebration turned to fear and flight. (February 21)
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Devastated, Great White singer Jack Russell tells affiliate WCVB how he reacted as flames consumed the wall behind his band. (February 21)
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WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island (CNN) -- Owners of the nightclub where a fast-moving fire killed at least 95 people said they did not authorize the band Great White's use of the pyrotechnics that ignited the blaze.

A statement released by the attorney for brothers Michael and Jeffrey Derderian read: "At no time did either owner have prior knowledge that pyrotechnics were going to be used by the band Great White."

Earlier, The Station Concert Club's stage technician said he did not know of Great White's plans.

Jack Russell, the band's lead singer, told CNN that the group would not have lit the indoor fireworks without the club's permission.

"Obviously there was some sort of miscommunication," Russell said.

Russell said the group's tour manager usually arranges with clubs to use the pyrotechnics. But Kathleen Hagerty, the owners' lawyer, said in a statement that "No permission was ever requested by the band or its agents to use pyrotechnics at The Station, and no permission was ever given."

The owner of a nightclub in Asbury Park, New Jersey, said Friday that Great White used pyrotechnics without permission during a show at his club on Valentine's Day.

Dominic Santana said Great White would not have taken the stage February 14 at his club, the Stone Pony, if management had known the band planned to use pyrotechnics.

"We do not allow pyrotechnics, and it got us by surprise," he said.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Santana held a folder filled with the band's contract and the rider, a document that provides the all the details "from the color of M&Ms" for band members to the technical requirements of the performance. The document describes lighting and sound but does not mention the use of pyrotechnics, Santana said.

Jim MacDonald worked as a disc jockey the night of the Great White show in New Jersey and said he, too, was surprised to see the pyrotechnics as the group opened its set.

"The band was being showered with these sparks," MacDonald said. "I'm amazed at the carelessness of that."

The band apparently uses the sparklers only during the first song. They are not used again during performances.

"There were a couple of drum licks and then a big blast," MacDonald said. "The sparks, they hit that ceiling and they scattered."

Video shot inside the Rhode Island club shows three sets of "flashpots," one in front of the band and two behind the group off to each side. In New Jersey, Santana said, only one flashpot -- in front of the group -- was used.

Rhode Island fire marshal Jesse Owens said a licensed pyrotechnician must apply for a permit to use fireworks during a performance. He said he didn't know if anyone associated with the club had the required license or permit.

West Warwick Police Chief Peter Brousseau said the club had not applied for a permit.


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