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Author Topic: Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire '77 (165 Dead) Re-Examined  (Read 6683 times)
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MuffyBee
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« on: October 31, 2008, 08:23:05 PM »

Governor Issues Re-examination of Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire
October 28, 2008

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.
http://community.fireengineering.com/profiles/blog/show?id=1219672%3ABlogPost%3A91367
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2008, 09:14:14 AM »

I lived very close to Beverly Hills Supper Club when this happened. So many people I knew were lost.

I had not seen this, thanks for the information.
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MuffyBee
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2008, 10:16:30 AM »

I lived very close to Beverly Hills Supper Club when this happened. So many people I knew were lost.

I had not seen this, thanks for the information.

You are welcome.  I remember when this happened and was really struck not only by the tragedy of this fire  and the heroic efforts of some, but also I remember some people were arrested when they were found breaking into cars of some of the victims that were still in the parking lot the next day/night and stealing their belongings.    That had a profound effect on me. 

If the fire was started purposely (arson) I hope the new technology available now will help find those responsible.  The article said a lot of material was bulldozed away, but I still hope there can be answers found.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2008, 10:18:08 AM by MuffyBee » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2008, 12:56:12 PM »


Survivors, relatives of victims against reopening 1977 fire probe

By Rich Gillette

Staff Writer

Monday, October 27, 2008
Local survivors and relatives of those who died in the notorious 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club fire question why a group is asking for the reopening of the investigation into the blaze that killed more than 150.

Last week, the group met with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's staff to make a case for reopening the fire investigation 31 years later.

"Why would they want to do it? Most of the people who were involved in the fire or investigated it are probably dead now. What good would come of it?" said Randy

Koontz, a Trenton area resident whose father and mother Donald and Dorothy Koontz died in the fire.

Thirteen people from the Edgewood school district were among the 165 people who died in the May 28, 1977, inferno, which was cited at the time as one of the worst in United States history.

The local residents were attending the supper club for a retirement party for Wayne Elementary teacher Ona Mayfield. More than 1,200 people were in the posh Southgate, Ky., facility.

Investigators at the time said the fire was started in aluminum electrical wiring that ran through the walls of the club's Zebra Room, a smaller reception room located on the other side of the large Cabaret Room.

More than a dozen experts on Oct. 18 gathered at Northern Kentucky University to discuss the case. The group, calling itself the Beverly Hills Supper Club Survivors for Justice, said only a handful of photographs were taken of the Zebra Room and that there is no specific physical evidence of the fire's ignition source.

The group said the investigation was flawed and ignored evidence of possible arson.

The accusation of arson stirs emotions in Koontz, and he questions if there are political motives behind the request for reopening the case.

"It was pretty obvious that no one saw external flames until it was too late. I can't believe it was arson. Why would someone start a fire when so many people were there? Wouldn't they wait until the building was empty?" said Koontz, 52.

Ed Fall, 82, was one of a few who survived the fire from the Edgewood group that attended the supper club. His wife, Grace Fall, a secretary at Wayne Elementary and a school bus driver, was killed in the fire.

"It's something I will never forget, but there's nothing you can do about it now," said Fall, who still lives on his family's farm on Stubbs Road.

Fall has never been back to the fire site, which sits empty today.

According to reports, Dave Brock was an 18-year-old busboy at the club and said he saw a pair of men working there including in the Zebra Room for three days before the fire. He told the Associated Press the men had no reason to be working there, and he believes they were involved in setting the fire.

The Kentucky governor has not ruled if the investigation should be reopened, but Koontz said even if it is not, a lot of good has come since the fire.

"There were a lot of new safety standards that were started because of that fire. That place was a lavish club made of a lot of materials like silk and other items that were very flammable. You don't see that today," Koontz said.

The Associated Press contributed to this

report

http://www.middletownjournal.com/hp/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/10/27/hjn102708supperclub.html

I can see how it might be very hard for some to have this come up again, after they have had to suffer.  However, I think it's never too late to find answers, especially if it was arson or even a preventable accident.  If it were me and one of mine perished, I would want the truth.  That's only my opinion.  I don't know if the reinvestigation is politically motivated, because I'm not familiar with the area or the politics there.  There have been so many new developments in the field of forensics and investigation techniques, I would think it would be worth reinvestigating.  JMHO
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  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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