R.I. Death Toll Rises

Ninety-eight deaths now confirmed after club fire

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Forty-year-old Kelly Vieiera, the ninety-eighth victim of last month's Rhode Island nightclub fire, died Sunday in Boston. She suffered severe burns after Great White's show-opening pyrotechnics ignited foam that the Station, in Vieiera's hometown of West Warwick, had used for soundproofing.

Of the roughly sixty people who remain hospitalized as a result of the February 20th blaze, nearly half are in critical condition, and doctors at area hospitals say the number of dead could continue to inch toward 100.

Great White guitarist Ty Longley, 31, who also died in the fire, was remembered yesterday at a memorial service in Hubbard, Ohio, attended by more than 400 people, but not his four surviving bandmates, according to press reports. Longley joined Great White in 2000, eighteen years after its initial founding.

Lead singer Jack Russell, one of two original band members along with guitarist Mark Kendall, is in Rhode Island, where according to his lawyers he is cooperating with the ongoing grand jury investigation into the blaze.

Reports Friday suggested Russell had asked for immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony, but his lawyers have since denied that.

Also Friday came indications that the nightclub installed cheap packing foam instead of proper nonflammable soundproofing. Investigators believe the foam accelerated the fire, which razed the wooden 1940s building.

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