Guitarist Ty Longley Among 97 Dead In Great White Club Fire

Rhode Island governor bans use of pyrotechnics in small clubs.

The death toll has risen to 97 in the Rhode Island nightclub fire that left more than 180 people injured and dozens unaccounted for Thursday.

Great White guitarist Ty Longely is now listed among those confirmed to have died in the blaze, which was sparked by a pyrotechnic mishap during a performance by the hard-rock veterans.

Longley couldn't be accounted for after the inferno overtook the Station club in West Warwick, Rhode Island, shortly after 11 p.m. During the first song by the group, best known for a 1989 cover of Ian Hunter's "Once Bitten Twice Shy," the wall behind the stage caught fire, and the flames consumed the interior of the nightclub in a mere three minutes. Approximately 300 people, the club's capacity, were believed to have been inside at the time (see "At Least 96 Dead At Rock Show Fire").

By Monday, 55 of the deceased had been identified by the state medical examiner's office, using dental records, fingerprints and DNA evidence. Among those injured, 80 people remained in Rhode Island and Massachusetts hospitals as of Sunday.

An investigation by state and local police and fire officials, as well as the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, began almost immediately after the flames were extinguished early Friday morning. Investigators hope to uncover the truth behind what has become a finger-pointing match over whether Great White had permission to use the pyrotechnics that started the fire.

Great White's attorney, Ed McPherson, said in an interview with Fox News Channel that the band was given a verbal OK to use the fiery special effects from Station co-owner Michael Derderian. He said that in what's called "an advance," the band's manager discussed the course of the concert events with Derderian a week before the show. McPherson added that Michael Derderian, who owns the Station with brother Jeffrey Derderian, was even present while the band set up its equipment.

McPherson's claims echo statements made by Great White singer Jack Russell in the hours after the fire.

Jeffrey Derderian, however, claimed to have no knowledge of the band's intention to use pyro, nor was he ever asked by the group or its manager for permission, according to a statement issued by his lawyer Friday. Police questioned Jeffrey Derderian on Friday and reportedly spoke to Michael on Sunday night, though the specifics of the encounters are unknown.

Spokespeople for four other clubs, including the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Great White played on February 14, claimed the band also surprised them with the use of pyro. However, a handful of other clubs have reportedly come forward to say that Great White complied when their request to use pyrotechnics was denied.

When asked why some venues would falsely accuse Great White of using pyro without permission, McPherson speculated that perhaps those clubs, knowing they would be under scrutiny in the wake of this fire and the stampede at Chicago Club E2 that killed 21, didn't have the proper permits or insurance themselves before they gave Great White the go-ahead.

David Vaccaro, ex-singer for the defunct New England band Lovin' Kry, told the Associated Press on Saturday that he had used pyrotechnics at the Station nearly 20 times between 1997 and 2000.

However the case unfolds, Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri issued a moratorium on pyrotechnic displays in all venues with a capacity between 50 and 300. Two hundred fire officials began inspecting clubs Monday.

Pictures, flowers, stuffed animals and other tokens were piled around a makeshift memorial near the only wall of the club left standing, where at least 25 burned bodies were found after futile attempts at escape through the front door.

A public memorial has been set for 5 p.m. Monday.