Rhode Island Station Cuts Episode Out of Respect for Fire Victims

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A Providence-area CBS affiliate won't air an episode of ``CSI: Miami'' that deals with a nightclub fire out of respect for the victims and survivors of the West Warwick blaze that killed 99 people.

The episode, scheduled to air Monday, focuses on the criminal investigation of a fire at a Miami nightclub that was caused by pyrotechnics.

Officials believe a band's pyrotechnic display sparked the Feb. 20 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick. Flames quickly spread through the one-story wooden building, and 99 people died as they scrambled for the exits. Nearly 200 other people were injured.

``The episode contains some striking similarities to the tragic fire at The Station nightclub,'' WPRI-TV said in a statement Thursday. ``Out of respect for the victims, their families and the Rhode Island community, WPRI-TV will not air the episode.''

Instead, the station will air excerpts of a nightclub fire benefit concert that took place April 22 in Providence. Donation information will be included in the show for viewers who want to contribute money to fire victims.

``They obviously needed to fill the space and they wanted to give an opportunity to raise money for the victims,'' said Amy Quinn, a WPRI spokeswoman.

Chris Ender, senior vice president of communications for CBS, said local affiliates rarely pull episodes of network programming, but it's not unprecedented.

``We respect the right of the station to determine what is appropriate to broadcast in its local area,'' said Ender. ``Obviously, this event had some parallels to a very terrible tragedy.''

Ender said the idea for the upcoming episode already was in the works before the deadly fire in Rhode Island.

CBS said it was unaware of other affiliates that wouldn't air the episode.

West Warwick Town Manager Wolfgang Bauer said pulling the show was a wise decision because visions of the fire are still fresh in people's minds.

A WPRI photographer was at The Station the night of the fire, gathering bar scene footage for a story about safety in public places.

The reporter was Jeffrey Derderian, co-owner of The Station. WPRI officials say Derderian's club was not to be a focus of the story, but journalism experts have said the arrangement violated conflict of interest standards.

Derderian is still employed and paid by WPRI, but hasn't returned to work. Photographer Brian Butler is on the job.

Quinn said the decision to pull the ``CSI: Miami'' episode had nothing to do with Derderian, who has been named in civil lawsuits connected to the fire. A criminal investigation into the blaze is also pending.

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