It has been 35 years since the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire in Southgate Kentucky that claimed 165 lives. The fire occurred Saturday night, May 28th, 1977.The Beverly Hills Supper Club was a popular nightspot that drew talent from Las Vegas, Nashville, Hollywood and New York. It was a complex that had been expanded many times over the years into an expanse of rooms connected by narrow corridors. After a wedding reception ended at 8:30pm in the Zebra Room some guest complained the room was becoming overheated, though no smoke was apparent, and the fire smoldered for another 25 minutes before being detected by two waitresses at 9:01pm when they saw dense smoke hanging near the ceiling.
I was in high school and about 2 weeks away from helping to install my first security and fire alarm system in a home on Locust Corner Road near New Richmond, Ohio in the summer of 1977. Southgate Kentucky seemed a long way away from the eastern side of Cincinnati in those days. It seemed everyone knew people that were effected by the fire. I had high school friends whose parents escaped and we had a family friend who escaped but lost a couple who was in their party.
A lengthy investigation determined that the factors that led to so many deaths were overcrowding, inadequate fire exits, faulty wiring, lack of firewalls, poor construction practices, extreme safety code violations (there was no fire sprinkler system, no audible fire alarm and some doors were locked), and poor oversight by the regulatory authorities by not ordering the numerous deficiencies to be corrected.
For more on the fire, see the illustration by The Cincinnati Enquirer that shows the layout of the club and many of the construction issues that contributed to the fire.
The fire caused people to realize the importance of building codes, fire alarms and the importance of those codes to be enforced on the local level.