Norfolk, VA Amusement Park Fire, Feb 1958

Burned Amusement Park


Norfolk, Va. (AP) -- One of Virginia's oldest beach resorts areas was severely damaged last night as fire, fanned by a 30 m. p. h. wind, swept through about two thirds of Ocean View Amusement Park.
DR. DUDLEY COOPER, owner of the park, estimated damage at a half million dollars. He said the park was insured, but did not know to what extent the damage was covered. An investigation to try to find the cause of the fire was to be held today.
About a city block of amusements, including most of the roller coaster, fell to the flames. Also destroyed were the merry-go-round, the dance hall, a snack bar, exhibits and a number of other concessions.
The fire was discovered about 6:10 p.m. in a storage shed midway of the roller coaster. By 7 p. m. the wind-driven flames had engulfed the concessions and the dance hall, located at the western end of the mile-long amusement area.
A branch of the Southern Bank of Norfolk, about 20 feet west of the dance hall, was also threatened for a while, but apparently helped stop the fire. The bank's operations were transferred to the Ward's Corner branch temporarily because of water damage.
Fire Chief W. J. LEWIS said the blaze though still burning strongly, was under control by 8 p. m. Two nearby cities and a number of volunteer fire companies helped Norfolk firemen fight the blaze in the brisk wind and steady rain.
Virginia Electric and Power Co. cut electricity to the park and adjoining Willoughby Spit at the height of the fire as flames burned through power lines, dropping them to the soggy ground where they endangered firemen. Power was restored later.
Ocean View, now a part of Norfolk, has been a shore resort since 1854 when several Norfolk residents built summer cottages there.
Over the years it became a popular resort for medium-income family groups.
The amusement park had been a mainstay since before the turn of the century. It was purchased Dec. 14, 1942 by DR. COOPER from Ocean View Inc., a subsidiary of Virginia Electric and Power Co.

The Bee Danville Virginia 1958-02-27