Amanda Ripley

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Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire…Revisited

31st Oct 2008 posted in General

One of the deadliest fires in American history happened on the night of May 28, 1977, at the Beverly Hills Supper Club outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. I wrote about this fire in my book because it was a case study in how groups behave in disasters. People struggled to stay with the people with whom they had arrived. The guests became largely passive and obedient, while the waiters and cooks did the vast majority of life saving. Darla McCollister, who had her wedding at the Club that night, was kind enough to share her story for the book.

Now we have some news on this fire, 31 years later. Glenn Corbett, a respected expert on fire safety and engineering, told me in New York City last month that he was looking into this fire at the request of one of the survivors--who believes there is reason so suspect arson. Glenn has since spent some time in Kentucky looking over the records and decided the case is worth revisiting. He and a group of survivors have called on the governor of Kentucky to create a new commission to investigate the causes of the ferioucious fire---which had been officially blamed on faulty wiring.

To learn more about this development, check out the local news coverage here. Darla, the survivor featured in The Unthinkable, is one of those interviewed: