Tuesday, May 13, 2014
ELITCH GARDENS - 1944
On July 16, 1944, fire roared through a "tunnel of love" boat ride at Denver's famed Elitch Gardens amusement park.
A locked gate delayed fire engines from reaching the blaze.
Smoke blackened the "Old Mill" boat ride, which featured colorful vessels and oil-painted canvas scenes.
Six people died. Four of the dead were soldiers and their wives. Two worked at the park and rushed into the flames to save the others.
"Flames were still at their height when firemen crashed through the walls of the Old Mill with axes," the Associated Press reported.
The International News Service reported: "For nearly an hour firemen feared the entire million dollar park would be burned down".
William Kilbourne, a soldier from Louisville, Kentucky, was credited with saving lives by pushing boats out of the tunnel.
"I heard a scream and looked back over my shoulder," Kilbourne said. "I saw a flash of flame in other boat or beside it."The tragedy led to reforms in the municipal fire code.