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Montgomery, AL Restaurant Fire, Feb 1967

Teamster Aide, Pepper Included

MONTGOMERY (AP) -A fire which began as tiny flickers in a cloakroom raced through a fashionable rooftop dining room in downtown Montgomery Tuesday night, leaving at least 26 persons dead, including a former state official who was indicted Tuesday.

Pepper, Wife Listed
A spokesman at one funeral home said positive identification had been made of the bodies of former Public Service Commissioner ED PEPPER and his wife ANN. The PEPPERS were dining with friends at the plush cafe when the fire started about 11 p. m.

PEPPER was indicted on two counts of extortion Tuesday by a federal grand jury at Birmingham. The indictments charged he "obstructed and delayed the transportation of goods and commodities in interstate commerce" while a PSC member. A third indictment was brought against PEPPER last November by the grand jury.

Another victim was identified as SIDNEY ZAGRI of Washington, D. C., chief lobbyist for James R. Hoffa's Teamsters Union.

Editor's Wife Killed.
Another body was identified today as that of MRS. JACK DOANE, wife of the sports editor of the Montgomery Advertiser. MRS. DOANE was a hostess at the fashionable restaurant.

Identification was difficult because of the condition of the bodies, which were taken to four funeral homes. A police identification team assisted by FBI experts was set up to help establish the identification.

Hours after the fire has been brought under control, Fire Chief W. T. Mallory said the cause was still undetermined. "We're trying to arrive at that by process of elimination," Mallory added.

Water Freezes
Water pouring from the blackened ruins of Dale's Penthouse restaurant atop the 11-story Walter Bragg Smith apartment hotel froze on the sidewalks and streets in the wintry 28 degree night, making it treacherous for firemen and police to move about. A city maintenance truck spread sand over the icy coating.

PEPPER, a onetime cabinet member during former Gov. James E. Folsom's second administration was elected to the Public Service Commission in 1962.

He gave up his place on the utility regulating body to run for Congress last spring, but was defeated in the Democratic Primary by former State Sen. Bill Nichols, who subsequently was elected last November.

Cloakroom Is Scene
In private life, he was an automobile dealer at Ashland, Ala.

Gov. Lurleen Wallace expressed sympathy for the families of the victims "of this terrible tragedy." She and her husband, former Gov. George C. Wallace, stayed up past midnight at the executive mansion half a dozen blocks away, getting telephoned reports from an aide.

JOHN ENGLISH, assistant manager of the restaurant and one of its owners, said the fire began in a cloakroom off the cocktail lounge adjoining the main dining room.

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Mother was working at St. Margaret's...

My mom was working over that evening in order to help with any patient that came in St. Margaret's in need of treatment. Ended up having to identify her best friend in the process. Throughout the years mom cried. The responders that evening certainly tried and tried to save lives. At this point and time my mom was the 1st licensed Inhalation Therapist. Pre-RT days. Mom is now with her friend. RIP to each victim...

Fire report

I would love to get a copy of everything you have. My Grandparents were Ed and Anne Pepper.

Lost family member

My Grandparents were Ed and Ann Pepper, I would like to know more about what happened as well.

My dad was a fire fighter

My dad was a fire fighter during that blaze. He said many people might have lived had they not tried to use the elevator to escape.

Dales Penthouse Fire

I also lost both of my parents in this fire. I would be interested in communicating with others such as JJ and Steve. Let me know your contact info if interested.

Fire Report

I have in hand, the Montgomery Fire department's fully disclosed report, complete with pictures diagrams, and detailed explanation as to the fire's progress.

I am just reading this and

I am just reading this and find it most interesting that one of Hoffa's men was killed. Did not Hoffa himself go missing during this period? Coincidence? Did you find any info?

Dale's Penthouse Fire

I was 12 years old the night my mother died in the Dale's Penthouse fire. You may contact me at

My mother died in the fire

I was 12 years old the night my mother died at the Dale's Penthouse fire. My father survived by taking the elevator. I have always wondered if he was responsible for the fire because he always smoked a pipe. I remember as a child that he would smoke his pipe even in areas that said, "No Smoking." When I would point this out to him he would say, "I'm not smoking, the pipe is."

The belief is that the fire

The belief is that the fire started in the cloak room, started by a patron that had left a lit pipe in a jacket.

article | by Dr. Radut