A fire at a 3,000-room hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip has been brought under control. As VOA's Steve Herman reports from Las Vegas the incident brings back memories of a tragic fire more than 27 years ago there that prompted the gambling town to enact stricter building codes.
Hotel patrons on the upper floors of the 32-story Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino sprinted down stairs with their luggage to evacuate the resort after being ordered out of their rooms. Some gathered in the parking lot clad only in bath robes and towels.
Billowing smoke from the fast-spreading fire on the hotel's synthetic roof façade and marquee blackened the famous Las Vegas Strip skyline late Friday morning. Debris plummeted to the ground as motorists in the area got out of their cars to gape at the fire and snap photographs.
Clark County Fire Department chief Steve Smith says there is no significant damage inside the high-rise twin tower resort and the fire was contained within an hour. "It's an exterior fire. There was only minor extension within the building where there was a few sprinklers that went off in the rooms - very, very minor," he said.
For Las Vegans the scenes of flames shooting above the Strip brought back memories of November 1980 when the MGM Grand resort caught fire, killing 87 people.
That tragedy prompted this resort town to enact some of the strictest fire codes in the world. The Monte Carlo was built in 1996 at a cost of nearly $350 million, well after the stringent building regulations went into effect.
Investigators say it will take time to determine the cause of the fire, but it is reported that welders were working on the roof at the time the blaze began. No serious injuries have been reported and thousands of guests and employees in the resort got out without incident.