Deadly Beverly Hills Supper Club fire marks 40 years - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Deadly Beverly Hills Supper Club fire marks 40 years

Beverly Hills Supper Club used to draw thousands from all over the country. (Source: WAVE 3 News archive) Beverly Hills Supper Club used to draw thousands from all over the country. (Source: WAVE 3 News archive)
The fire killed and injured hundreds of people.  (Source: WAVE 3 News archive) The fire killed and injured hundreds of people. (Source: WAVE 3 News archive)
The wreckage left behind by the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire.  (Source: WAVE 3 News archive) The wreckage left behind by the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. (Source: WAVE 3 News archive)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's Beverly Hills Supper Club fire remains one of the nation's worst fire tragedies. It happened 40 years ago, Memorial Day weekend, 165 people died and more than 200 were injured.

Fire officials say although much has changed, what happened on May 28, 1977 serves as a sobering reminder we can all learn from.

At one time, Southgate, Kentucky, just a few miles away from Cincinnati, drew the rich and famous to its Beverly Hills Supper Club.

People traveled from Las Vegas, California and New York to see the nation's top entertainers, as they did on May 28.

The club's Cabaret Room was way over capacity, as some 900 to 1300 people waiting to see John Davidson perform. Employees noticed smoke coming from the club's Zebra Room. 

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Former Employee, Wayne Dammert remembered the devastating fire.

"I pulled the door open, two double doors and a blast of heat came at me like you could not ever believe," Dammert said to our sister station, WXIX TV. 

Too many people started running for small doors and there were too few exits.

That, combined with no sprinklers, lead to a grisly makeshift morgue that is hard to fathom, even today, for those who survived.

Louisville Fire officials say while there were major changes to the Kentucky fire code enforcement with the creation of the fire marshal's office under the Department of Building and Housing Construction, many risks still exist today.

>> WATCH: Connie's report here

"When you double your capacity, that's one of the big indicators in all these major fires and high numbers of death that we see," LFD Assistant Fire Marshal Major Brian Meurer said.

Louisville Fire warns to always be mindful when you take your family to a public venue.

"If I'm going to eat at a restaurant or I'm going to go to a nightclub, I'm going to check by the front door and see if the capacity sign is there," Meurer said.

Look for emergency exits and your route to get out.  While the cause of the fire was listed as electrical, many people were convinced it was arson, but no criminal charges were ever filed. There is still talk of building a permanent memorial on the vacant site.

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