40 years later: Remembering the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire

SOUTHGATE, KY (FOX19) - Forty years later, the memories are still painful.

165 people lost their lives when the Beverly Hills Supper Club burned to the ground on May 28, 1977.

It had been the showplace of the midwest.

"You could come up here and see a great show and have dinner and it wouldn't hardly cost you anything," said fire survivor Wayne Dammert.

Dammert was a banquet captain at the Supper Club.

On May 28, 1977, the place was packed with hundreds of people. It was a typical Saturday night.

Dammert remembers when a fellow employee reported smoke in the Zebra Room.

"I opened the double doors and a blast of heat hit me like you wouldn't believe," he said. "Unbelievable."

The fire raged as he and other employees desperately tried to get as many people out as they could.

In the end, 165 people including two pregnant women, lie dead.

"I saw a waitress and I said, 'are you religious?'" And she says 'yes I am.' I said 'will you pray over these bodies and I'll pray over these.' and we probably did 50."

David Brock was an 18-year-old busboy that night.

He's been haunted by the fire ever since.

Brock has spent years collecting evidence he claims prove the fire was arson, caused by the mob.

The official cause was ruled faulty aluminum wiring.

Author Bob Webster worked with Brock on a book about the fire, its cause and how many lives it changed.

"This was like the moon landing, this was like JFK getting shot, everyone around here that day remembers where they were when the Beverly Hills Supper Club caught fire," said Webster.

The hilltop site of the fire became a tangled web of overgrown trees.

Rusted relics of the supper club remain scattered along a broken path that weaves through where the rooms once stood.

Forty years later, some would like a permanent memorial built.

The Mayor of Southgate and the Campbell County Judge Executive released a statement expressing their hope and commitment to create a permanent memorial on the 80-acre site.

A memorial ceremony has been planned for Sunday, May 28, from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. at the Southgate Community Center, 301 W. Walnut St.

At 5 o'clock, people can climb the hill to see the site of the deadly fire.

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