ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Fifty years ago Friday a fire swept through the Forest Park Highlands, destroying the amusement park, shutting down Highway 40, and injuring nine firefighters.
Smoke was first spotted around 12 p.m. Friday, July 19, 1963 by David Mitchell, a friend of Don Lewis Jr., an employee working that day at the sno cone stand.
Mitchell spotted the smoke coming from the basement of the restaurant. As maintenance workers attempted to put the fire out there was a small explosion, causing the fire to spread more quickly.
PHOTOS: 1963 Forest Park Highlands fire
The fire traveled between carnival rides until most of the park was ignited.
Nearly 260 firefighters and 46 fire trucks were called in that day.
Pool water from the park's swimming pool was used in the fire truck pumper, and to help cool down firefighters battling the blaze in the day's 97 degree heat.
Located at 5600 Oakland Avenue, people lined up outside the Forest Park Zoo and watched as the Highlands burned to the ground.
The only structures that survived the fire were the Comet rollercoaster, the ferris wheel, and the merry-go-round.