PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – The owner of a radio station that promoted a rock concert where pyrotechnics ignited a deadly blaze reached a tentative $22 million settlement with survivors and victims’ relatives, according to court papers filed Wednesday.

The deal with Clear Channel Broadcasting is the latest in a series of settlements stemming from the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick that killed 100 people and injured more than 200 others.

The fire began when pyrotechnics used by the band Great White ignited highly flammable foam used as soundproofing on the club’s walls and ceiling.

Victims’ lawyers sued Clear Channel after the fire, alleging that its rock radio station, WHJY-FM, promoted the concert by running on-air advertisements, distributing free tickets to the show and having a disc jockey serve as master of ceremonies and introduce the band.

Lawyers say the station knew or should have known that the concert it was advertising featured a band that regularly used pyrotechnics. They say the DJ, Mike Gonsalves – who was among those killed in the fire – had the authority to stop or delay the concert because of the pyrotechnics but failed to do so.

Clear Channel Broadcasting is a unit of Clear Channel Communications Inc., the largest operator of radio stations in the United States, and one of the brand-name defendants that were sued after the fire.

Clear Channel has said in court papers that it had no control over what happened at the club that night and did not arrange, pay for or control Great White’s performance.

It said in a statement Wednesday that it was saddened by the “tremendous harm” caused by the fire but denied any responsibility.

“While Clear Channel had no role in causing or contributing to this fire, we are pleased to resolve these claims and, hopefully, contribute in some way to a sense of resolution for the affected victims and their families,” the company said in a statement.

The settlement requires the approval of all the plaintiffs as well as the federal judge who is overseeing the case, among other conditions, the court papers said. A Duke University law professor has been appointed to create a formula for the distribution of settlement money.

The settlement also covers the radio station itself and Capstar Radio Operating Company, which is part of Clear Channel, according to the documents.

The tentative deal brings to more than $70 million the total amount of settlement money offered so far to survivors and victims’ relatives.

Other defendants who have reached settlements in recent months include The Home Depot, a manufacturer of insulation material, a pyrotechnics maker and a TV station whose cameraman was accused of blocking an exit while videotaping the fire.

Dozens of people and companies remain part of the case, including Anheuser-Busch, members of Great White and the state of Rhode Island.

The three men criminally charged, club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and former Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele, reached plea deals on involuntary manslaughter charges in 2006. Biechele and Michael Derderian were each sentenced to four years in prison, while Jeffrey Derderian was spared jail time and ordered to perform community service instead.

AP-ES-02-13-08 1806EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.