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.

Continued on page 2


Jack Doane ....and Murder

Hi Melissa,
...just was reading about the Dales Penthouse fire, which I remember well, being a native of Montgomery.
Also I am trying to find out more about the conviction of Jack Doane for murdering his wife in 1974.
I worked with Jack for three years in the Sports department for the Montgomery Advertiser...from 1969-1973.
I vaguely knew of Jack's loss of his wife in the Dales Penthouse fire but we never talked about it.
However, I was there when he started dating and married his second wife. I met her a few times.
She was pretty and thin, as opposed to Jack's large body and ruddy complexion, and the people at the newspaper and I wondered how and why Jack would marry this girl.
Well, things went south for them right after I left my job at the paper to work in Alaska. I found out from friends that Jack had stabbed her to death in a jealous rage.
The evidence was overwhelming...much like the O.J. case...and I see the NY Times piece about his conviction, but haven't found out yet if he served time, etc.
Not sure what your connection to Jack Doane or his wives is, but trust me...HE DID IT! He was a viciously jealous man, among other faults! You can write to me in Redmond WA at the above email address.
Thanks for caring.
p.s. I don't think they'll ever know the whole story about the Dales Penthouse fire.

John English

I knew your step grandfather back in the late 50's and early to mid 60's. I thought he was a wonderful man. I was only a child at the time I knew him as he was good friends with my father Ralph Smith who at the time was a legal advisor to Gov. John Patterson in Montgomery. We only lived in Montgomery for this reason and after his term moved back to North Al. We ate many time at Dale's Penthouse with John English, I remember the delicious Greek Pastries he gave us. He visited us in our home many times always bringing my sister and I gifts. We thought he was the greatest. He was single most of the time. I do remember him getting married, We went to the wedding. It was a little Greek ceremony. Is Grace still living? I think I remember him having a baby. Not long after that we moved back to North Al and lost touch. My father died somewhere around 95 too. We had already moved when the fire happened. I know it had to have horrified Mr. English. I am glad to know what happened to him though. Rachel Walker

Dale's Penthouse fire

When this happened, I was a senior at The Williams School, which was located on Clayton Street next door to Walter Bragg Smith Apartments. The school building consisted of a large old two story house and has long been torn down and a parking lot has been there for many years now.
At the time, I lived in north Montgomery on Garden Street in the Chisolm area. Garden Street was a dead-end street which ran east to west and ended at what was then a cotton field. I was listening to the radio that night (WAPX) when a news story broke in that there was a fire at Dale's Penthouse atop the apartment building. I remember going to the end of the street and looking toward town. Though the building was several miles away from my vantage point, the glow of the fire in the distance was plainly visible. I've thought about that night many times over the years (I'm now 68) and all of those who were lost in the fire. Such a tragedy!

Buck Pepper

I went to college with Buck Pepper in Troy. We were fraternity brothers.

might be the Jack Doane your looking for. not sure.

Funeral will be 4 p.m. Friday, March 26, 2010 at Crestwood Funeral Home for John (Jack) Doane, 73, Glencoe, who died Tuesday, March 23, 2010. Dr. Robert Tant will officiate. Entombment at Crestwood Mausoleum. Crestwood Funeral Home is in charge.
He retired from the newspaper business, having worked at The Gadsden Times and Anniston Star. Since the age of 15 he had a love and knowledge of sports that could outshine anyone.

I am John English's

I am John English's step-grandson. He married my paternal grandmother, Grace, in the mid-1960s. Grace's son, my father William Earl Moody, was a junior in high school at the time of the fire. John and his family went by "Englezos", which was his actual name. Whether he began going by Englezos out of pride in his Greek heritage or a desire to distance himself from the fire is anyone's guess. He was originally from Cyprus, and died in 1995 from a long illness. I was born in 1975, so by the time I came along, it was all talked out. It wasn't often mentioned. All of my own knowledge of the fire is from news reports. The only thing I can add here is that it is believed that the fire started from an improperly extinguished cigarette. There were also lingering rumors that John could have done more to alert the patrons and staff before he exited the building, but the specifics of the night are unclear, and that will have to remain conjecture.

Two interesting coincidences: In 1997, I myself moved to Capitol Towers and lived on the 9th floor, in an apartment just below where the restaurant had been. I didn't choose that deliberately, but there were nights when my thoughts drifted to what happened just a few feet above me twenty years before. I never felt anything strange there, though.

Also, on April 23, 2015, my own father died in a house fire in north Alabama. Seems like fire is a theme in my family. Here's hoping we're done with it for a while.

Dad was there filming for TV station.

My dad worked for WSFA -Tv and was helping film it with a reporter.My mom later told me my dad had horrible memories of what he had witnessed.


Hi, I have always wondered how the girl in my class is doing, I was at Capitol Heights Junior High at the time, and a girl from a Greek family had lost her parents, but, she returned to school that following Monday I believe. Did you know her.

Official Report on the fire

For all interested, here's the official report into the fire:

Can take up to a minute to download, so be patient.

There's more in the actual report than appears in the attached file. I couldn't scan the large foldout pages of diagrams of the layout of the restaurant, and I intentionally left out the horrible pictures of the victims.

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...