Trial by Fire or Trial by Bias

Amanda Bussman
3 min readFeb 1, 2024
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

If you are a Rhode Islander, you’ve heard about the Station Nightclub Fire.

100 individuals lost their lives the night of a deadly fire in 2003. Great White, a 80s hairband had taken the stage and took it upon themselves to think that a small club was the best venue to light off pyrotechnics in. There was hardly a soul in the small state that didn’t know someone or by proxy someone that had been in that club.

Rhode Island is a very tiny state. When they say that everyone knows everyone, it’s very much true.

Trial by Fire

In 2020, Scott James wrote a nonfiction work depicting different stories about The Station Fire. The intertwined narrative is supposed to serve as the story of what the truth behind the fire was.

With stories of many of the brave survivors, James recounts moments from that night and beyond through their eyes. Their harrowing experiences with regaining their lives and finding a new normal is commendable. There is much to be said about the various contributors who have spoken their stories. They took the time to re-live the night their entire worlds changed catastrophically.

I will say, there is not enough praise for those who pushed through their worst moments and built their lives back. They deserve the support and respect for everything they have endured over the last 21 years.

The book, however, left a sour taste in my mouth that did not make it enjoyable.

A Game of Finger Pointing

I can remember it being a big thing in Rhode Island, deciphering who was at fault for this major catastrophe. Where there’s loss and heartache someone always needs to be held responsible. The state needed someone to blame, those suffering needed a reason for why such a devastation occurred.

The brothers who owned the club were a big part of that. The other happened to be the band manager for Great White. In a catch-22 where there is no intention for the tragedy that occurred, how can a single party be handed the responsibility of shouldering all of the grief and the loss that comes with such an event?

In the pages of Trial by Fire, Scott James makes it very clear who you are supposed to paint as…

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Amanda Bussman

If you're looking for a writing coach and someone who is working through generational trauma, you've come to the right place. OH! I hope you like Taylor Swift!