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Re-examination of Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

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  • Re-examination of Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

    Governor Issues Re-examination of Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

    Today, the governor the state of Kentucky issued a letter to Dave Brock, a survivor of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. For those of you who may not remember, the Beverly Hills Supper Club was a nightclub located in Southgate, Kentucky. On May 28, 1977, it would become the scene of one of the largest losses of life in the history of the American fire service. In the letter issued today, Governor Steven Beshear explains that he has directed three nationally recognized attorneys to re-examine the evidence and the materials surrounding the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire.

    I hope that the attorneys reviewing these materials will find sufficient evidence and cause to reopen the entire investigation. For some background on the fire, here is the short version: The Beverly Hills Supper Club was a premier destination for people to socialize, dine, and be entertained in the Cincinnati area. Around 8:25 PM, the fire was discovered by a busboy, who quickly directed folks in the main room awaiting the headliner entertainment to evacuate. It's estimated that almost 2,400 people were in the Beverly Hills Supper Club at the time. 165 people would be unable to evacuate in time and would lose their lives.

    The tragedy of the night of May 28 and the loss of 165 persons would lead to significant advances in building and fire codes, particularly for places of assembly. However, in 1977 fire investigators did not have the tools that we have today. In particular, NFPA 921, the Guide to Fire and Explosion Investigations, did not exist. Major flaws have recently been exposed by a recent review of this fire by a variety of fire experts, many of whom have organized a group called the Beverly Hills Supper Club Survivors for Justice on Fire Engineering's community site. These flaws include destruction of the suspected area of origin within a day of the fire--the Zebra Room; its ceiling, where many believe the fire started, was bucket loaded with a crane a day after the fire and dumped in the parking lot.

    Regarding the 1977 investigation, it appears that arson was quickly ruled out. Today we are asking: Why? Today we are asking what investigation was conducted regarding the statements made by three employees of the club who have described suspicious men working in the Zebra Room. The Zebra Room has been identified as the area when the fire began. Three people saw men working in the room right before the fire. They described wall fixtures being removed and chandelier being removed from the ceiling. Additionally, they all described some type of material being spread across the walls. The workers in the Zebra Room were identified as air conditioning repairman.

    Survivors and former employees of the Beverly Hills Supper Club have made statements that they had heard that the owners of the supper club were being pressured to sell. Could the fire have been the result of arsonists working for the potential buyers? We don't know, but we're asking to put the tools of modern science to work and the modern investigative powers of the state back to work on investigating what really happened the night of May 28 in Southgate, Kentucky. It very well could be that nothing illegal or nefarious took place. Or we could be witnessing the beginnings of an investigation into one of the largest mass murders in the history of the United States.
    When fire is cried and danger is neigh,
    "God and the firemen" is the people's cry;
    But when 'tis out and all things righted,
    God is forgotten and the firemen slighted.
    ~Author unknown, from The Fireman's Journal, 18 Oct 1879

  • #2

    30+ years is an awful long time. That and the fact that the suspected area of origin was destroyed the next day and an accurate reconstruction was never really attempted.

    I've studied this fire quite a bit as I was living in Dayton at the time and vividly recall watching the live news reports from the scene that night as well as the many newspaper reports that followed. My interest in this fire is one of the reasons I went into fire investigation.

    It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of this new investigation. I never did completely buy the official findings. Degraded pieces of aluminum wiring dug out of a pile of ruble? Granted, aluminum wire was bad news, but...
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer


    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
    RUSH-Tom Sawyer

    Success is when skill meets opportunity
    Failure is when fantasy meets reality


    • #3
      I live very close to where it happened and drive past the hill leading up to it all the time. I will be very interested to see what they find out. I know guys who worked it but I dont ask questions to them in effort to not bring up a pandora's box of old emotion's


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