Six killed in apart­ment fire in Las Ve­gas

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Front Page - By MICHELLE L. PRICE, PAUL DAVENPORT and MARC LEVY

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.

Chase Stevens/Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal via AP

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.

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