A historic blaze caused widespread damage to residential buildings off of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas early today. It was the largest number of occupied dwelling units on fire in 25 years, Las Vegas firefighters reported.
Ten or more buildings were heavily damaged or destroyed in the four-alarm fire that took five hours to bring under control, firefighters said. Investigators spent the day searching for its cause.
Downtown casinos and tourist attractions are a mile or two away from the site of the fire. El Cortez Casino is about a mile from the blaze. The Fremont Street Experience is located about 1.5 miles away.
But much of downtown lost power in connection with the fire, according to initial reports. Traffic in the area was also impacted.
The extent of the blaze led Las Vegas firefighters to get help from neighboring departments. Some 140 firefighters arrived at the scene from the Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and Clark County departments.
Only one person suffered minor smoke inhalation. That individual was treated at the scene, and later released. No other injuries were reported.
Firefighters were returning from another incident when at 12:56 am they saw a large column of smoke. As they investigated, they discovered a fire at a building under construction at 200 Tower St. The building was completely engulfed by flames. It was part of a Fremont Street condominium complex.
Realizing the threat of the flames and the risk from extreme heat and heavy southwest winds, firefighters immediately alerted nearby residents to leave their homes.
Thick, dense smoke started to fill the complex making visibility reduced and making it hard to breathe for residents who were trying to escape,” the fire department reported.
Much of Downtown Loses Power
A utility pole at the scene caught fire and collapsed during the blaze, too. Utility lines fell to the ground. That led to a portion of the downtown area to lose electricity.
By 6 am, the flames were mostly under control. Firefighters remained on the scene into the daylight hours on Sunday to extinguish flare-ups and hotspots.
Guests at a nearby motel and residents at a nearby studio apartment complex also were evacuated.
Some residents went to Hollingsworth Steam Academy, a nearby school, for temporary shelter. Hundreds of people were forced to leave their residences or rooms, KTNV, a local TV station, reported.
Fled With Dogs, Cats
Two people who were forced to flee a condo said they escaped without shirts, phones, or personal belongings, KTNV said. Their condo is now “uninhabitable.”
As of later on Sunday, the duo had not been back to see if their car was destroyed by flames, the report said. An estimated two dozen vehicles were damaged in the fire, KLAS, another local TV station, reported.
Some residents only had time to pick up cats and dogs before running outside quickly for their safety, KTNV said.
One resident, Matalie Avila, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the fire that “residents have complained multiple times about squatters.”
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