Six killed in apartment fire in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — A fire in a three-story apartment building in downtown Las Vegas where residents were apparently using their stoves for heat killed six people and forced some residents to jump from upper-floor windows to escape the heavy smoke before dawn Saturday, authorities said.
Investigators reported that the fire started around a first-floor unit’s stove and that residents had told them that there was no heat in the building, which sits a few blocks from downtown Las Vegas’ touristy Fremont Street District.
Residents reported awakening to pounding on doors around 4 a.m.
By the time Matthew Sykes got his clothes on to flee, one end of his second-floor hallway was choked with thick black smoke, as was a stairwell, making it impassable for he and his wife.
“The whole place was like one big black cloud of smoke — couldn’t get down the stairs,” Sykes told The Associated Press.
Firefighters arriving at the scene began treating injured and using ladders to rescue numerous people already jumping or hanging from windows, fire department spokesman Tim Szymanski said. “The first thing that you think of is: We’ve got to rescue those people. A fall of 16 feet or higher can be fatal.”
Thirteen people were injured, mostly from smoke inhalation, but victims also had fractures, Szymanski said.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a pregnant woman in her first trimester fell after her hands slipped on a rope of bed sheets while descending from her thirdfloor apartment, leaving her with multiple fractures. Her husband told the newspaper that medical personnel told him the fetus’ heartbeat appeared strong.
Three people were found dead in the apartment where the fire started, Szymanski said.
It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone died after falling or jumping from windows, Szymanski said. No firefighters were injured.
The cause of the fire appeared to be accidental, and the fire was largely contained to the first-floor unit where it started in the stove area, Szymanski said. Firefighters found the burners on, Szymanski said.
Residents told investigators and reporters that some had been using their apartment’s stoves for warmth because the building lacked heat. Temperatures overnight have been dipping into the high 30s, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologist
Chris Outler said the low was 40 degrees early Sunday.
A woman answering the phone at the office of the entity listed as the building’s owner, Las Vegas Dragon Hotel LLC in Las Vegas, told the AP she was told not to comment. She said she would leave a message for Adolfo Orozco, the man listed in state incorporation records as the business’ managing member.
A woman identifying herself as a co-owner of the apartment building, Malinda Mier, told news organizations that she was saddened, but did not say in a statement whether the building had heat.
Szymanski said firefighters reported hearing smoke alarms going off, but not fire alarms. The State Fire Marshal’s Office will investigate for code violations, including any involving fire alarms, he said.
The city’s code enforcement office did not immediately return telephone messages Saturday. State law requires landlords to provide heat, but it also leaves it up to residents to notify the landlord.
Saturday’s fire was possibly the deadliest in the Las Vegas area since 1980, when 87 people died and more than 700 were injured in a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel.
Las Vegas firefighters work the scene of a fire at a three-story apartment complex early Saturday. The fire was in a first-floor unit of the Alpine Motel Apartments and its cause was under investigation, the department said. Authorities say multiple fatalities were reported and several were injured.