Legal Experts in Kentucky Mull Reopening Deadly 1977 Fire

October 31, 2008

The Kentucky governor said he has asked legal experts to determine whether new evidence warrants reopening an investigation into one of the deadliest fires in U.S. history, a nightclub blaze that killed 165 people more than 30 years ago.

Survivors of the 1977 fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in the northern Kentucky town of Southgate claim the new evidence suggests the blaze may have been intentionally set. Investigators concluded that faulty electrical wiring ignited the fire.

Gov. Steve Beshear told survivors in a letter that he asked a special prosecutor who led the original probe and two University of Kentucky law professors who were also involved to review the evidence and report back to him in the next several weeks.

“The fire was an unspeakable tragedy, and I know that the reverberations from that tragedy have continued to impact and haunt the survivors, their families and the region more than 30 years later,” Beshear said in the letter.

David Brock, an 18-year-old busboy at the nightclub when it burned down, met with the governor’s aides last week and presented new evidence. However, he didn’t want to publicly reveal the material because he feared retribution from those implicated.

Brock has previously said he saw two suspicious men in the area of the nightclub where the fire is believed to have started. He said they were purportedly working on the air conditioning, but there was no evidence anyone had been hired to work on the system.

He said he was pleased with the governor’s response.

“Now, we can put the pieces of the puzzle together,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

About 30 survivors are calling for the investigation to be reopened, Brock said. He wants the probe reopened on behalf of the victims’ families.

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