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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.

posted by Bobby Halton
10/28/2008 04:44:00 PM

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Blogger David Anderson said...

The quick decision to rule out arson should have been a red flag indicator as to the depth of the decision making as to cause and origin. It would be beneficial for each state to adopt a cold case investigative team to review high profile cases using todays technology and techniques to assure that all measures were exhausted to determine the proper cause and origin.

Wed Oct 29, 02:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger RON KANTERMAN said...

Every fire marshal, inspector and chief should read "The Anatomy of a Night Club Fire." Ii chrioncals the Beverly Hills fire and will give you a chill from the base of your brain to the base of your spine (Published in 1984) I just read it and was in total disbelief. Not enough exits, all renovations and additions not to code, no or inadequate inspections, non-licnsed electrical work, and no one held accoutable,. Not the owner, the inspectors or the state fire marshal. We had bodies piled up aty the doorsi nj1977 and again in 2003 in West Warwick, RI. We've got work to do.

Tue Nov 04, 10:28:00 AM EST  

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