Jackson Township, NJ Amusement Park Fire, May 1984
SIX FLAGS FIRE KILLS 8 IN N.J.
HAUNTED CASTLE ATTRACTION BURNS, POSSIBLE ARSON.
Jackson Twp., N.J. (AP) -- Investigators searched today for more bodies at the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park, where fire fanned by high wind turned a Haunted Castle attraction into a 2,000-degree chamber of death.
At least eight people died. Seven others were injured, authorities said.
Officials said it could take several days to identify the badly burned bodies of the victims, believed to be teenagers, who were trapped in the blazing structure Friday evening.
"Initially, we thought they were mannequins, but then we discovered they were bodies," said Police Commissioner Richard Borys. "It's going to be a slow task. We don't know if they were men or women -- that's how badly the bodies were burned."
"Right now, we don't think there are any more bodies but we are investigating very careful to be sure," said police Capt. Samuel DePasquale. "The structure was pretty much destroyed so we have a lot of rubble to deal with."
Park spokeswoman Andrea Smeal said about 20,000 people were in the park Friday.
Uncertainty about the victims' identities prompted authorities to set up a telephone hotline to handle hundreds of phone calls to the park, near Trenton about 50 miles south of New York, from parents seeking information about their children.
"We need to find out who's missing, the approximate size and weight and then get dental records," said Borys.
The cause of the fire was under investigation by the Ocean County Arson Squad. "Arson has not been ruled out" as a cause, said Borys.
The fire broke out at 6:35 p.m. and spread quickly through the Haunted Castle, comprised of six metal trailers connected by walkways.
The trailers were melted and gutted by the blaze. The facade around them was standing but charred.
The fire was brought under control at 7:41 p.m.
Borys said about 10 or 12 employees working at the Haunted Castle smelled smoke and evacuated an undetermined number of patrons. He said he considered the employees, some of them "all blacked out with a white face" as they led patrons to exits, to be "superheroes in a way."
Seven people were treated at Freehold Area Hospital for smoke inhalation.
Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1984-05-12
List of Fatalities
JOSEPH R. BEYROUTEY, 17, Paterson, N.J.
TINA GENOVESE, 15, Williamstown, N.J.
SAMUEL VALENTIN, JR., 17, Brooklyn, N.Y.
NICOLA CAIAZZA, 18, Paterson, N.J.
LENNY RUIZ, 17, Brooklyn, N.Y.
ERIC RODRIGUEZ, 18, Brooklyn, N.Y.
CHRISTOPHER HARRISON, 17, Brooklyn, N.Y.
JOSE CARRION, JR., 17, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!