Northern Kentucky man reacts to Brazil club fire after enduring similar experience
11:10 PM, Jan 27, 2013
6:30 PM, Jan 28, 2013
ALEXANDRIA, Ky. - More than 35 years later, Wayne Dammert still has broken dishes, melted glass and a menu that was burned during the 1977 fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Northern Kentucky.
"It's something you never get over it," Dammert said. "I did have a bad anxiety problem for a long time. I have medicine I can take for that."
Dammert, who was 41 at the time, was a manager at the club in Southgate, Ky. He worked the night of the tremendous fire that took 165 lives.
"There were only two exit doors in the back and one in the front for 1,000 people," he said. "It just didn't work. There was panic in that room just like there was in Brazil."
A similar situation occurred at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil Sunday morning. More than 230 people were killed and many more were injured during that fire.
Learning about the tragedy in Brazil and thinking about what he has been through pulled at Dammert's heartstrings Sunday.
"It's just a mass confusion. People are scared to death," he said. "In our case thick black smoke was pouring in there. The people in there know they're going to die."
Dammert said he can't help but feel frustration too after several kinds of fires that could have been prevented, including a 2003 fire in Rhode Island where 100 people died after pyrotechnics used as a stage prop by the 1980s rock band Great White set ablaze cheap soundproofing foam on the walls and ceiling.
"Up there in Rhode Island, it was pyrotechnics," Dammert said. "With communication today they shouldn't use that. They should've known this down there."
Through all the frustration and painful memories, Dammert tries to remain positive. He considers himself a lucky person. Dammert said all fire survivors should feel that way.
"The ones that got out can praise God they got out of there," he said.
Wayne Dammert wrote a book about his accounts from the night of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. It's called "Inside the Fire."