LAS VEGAS - A high-rise hotel on the Las
Vegas strip caught fire on Friday, sending guests and gamblers
fleeing from the casino -- and invoking memories of the
old MGM Grand fire that killed nearly 100 people almost
The blaze erupted on the upper floors of the Monte Carlo
Hotel & Casino at approximately 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time,
engulfing the top five levels of the building. Flames at
least 15 feet high could be seen rising from the hotel's
roof and black plumes of smoke were seen from several miles
The Monte Carlo, which is owned by MGM-Mirage, has a little
more than 3,000 rooms and it is virtually assured that at
least a few guests were staying on the upper floors when
the fire started. However, hotel officials say no guests
were in immediate danger as the flames never directly penetrated
the main lodging areas. Investigators were trying to determine
whether any of the luxury suites on the hotel's upper level
were breached by the flames.
One report said that four hotel workers became trapped
on the roof of the building, but the Las Vegas Fire Department
chief later said that report was untrue. Aerial video also
showed firefighers on the hotel's roof dousing the flames
with water hoses.
Five people were hospitalized following the fire, mainly
with breathing difficulties but officials said the injuries
resulted from the evacuation rather than the fire itself.
The hotel immediately issued a mandatory evacuation following
the fire. Two brothers from Indiana were in a room on the
30th floor when they heard hotel officials banging on the
doors yelling, "Fire! Get out!"
Video taken of the incident, at least initially, suggested
that no other structures were affected by the fire.
Approximately 90 minutes after the fire started, hotel officials
claimed that the flames were confined to the building's
west wing and were under control. Subsequent video of the
hotel confirmed that the smoke and flames had nearly been
Smoke rises after a fire broke out at the Monte Carlo hotel
and casino in Las Vegas , Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. The fire,
which was reported around 11 a.m., was spreading from the
center section of the hotel across the roof.
The building's actual casino was never affected by the
flames and officials say the fire never burned beneath the
top five floors.
"They contained this very quickly and there were no
injuries," said Clark County, Nev. official Jennifer
Knight. "Everybody did a very good job in getting to
this very quickly."
A portion of the Monte Carlo's facade burned quickly and
actually fell off the building but it is not believed that
the debris caused any injuries. The facade was made of a
foam building material that "melted off the side of
the building and started a few fires below," according
to Clark County, Nev. Fire Chief Steve Smith.
A portion of Las Vegas Boulevard, known as "the Strip,"
near the Monte Carlo was completely closed for almost two
hours so emergency response teams could effectively make
entrance to the building.
A satellite image of Las Vegas Blvd. shows where the Monte
Carlo is located, just west of Las Vegas Blvd. (The Strip).
(Image: Google Maps)
A high rise building has been under construction directly
adjacent to the Monte Carlo for several weeks, although
it was not immediately known whether that may have played
a factor in the fire.
Officials with Clark County, Nev. said Friday afternoon
that construction welders were actually on top of the Monte
Carlo's roof prior to the fire though it was not known whether
that may have contributed to the blaze.
The Monte Carlo is located between the New York, New York
Hotel & Casino and the Bellagio -- all three of which
are owned by the same corporation, MGM-Mirage.
"Our primary focus is the safety of our guests and
employees," said MGM-Mirage Vice President Gordon Absher.
"We will take care of them."
Absher also said guests of the Monte Carlo were being sent
to the nearby MGM Grand Garden arena and would receive accommodations
at one of the company's other properties.
The Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino was constructed in 1995
and opened on June 21, 1996. Initially named the "Grand
Victoria" -- the hotel became one of the city's premier
properties at the time. With a European luxury-styled theme,
the $344 million hotel became known for its amenities and
high-profile nightly show featuring world-renowned magician
The MGM Grand Hotel caught fire on Nov. 21, 1980 due to
faulty electrical wiring in a kitchen area. 84 People died
and 785 were injured in what became the worst disaster in
Nevada history. (Photo: Robert Stanzler)
Friday's fire is not the first in Las Vegas' history. Nearly
100 people were killed on Nov. 21, 1980 when the old MGM
Grand Hotel & Casino (now Bally's) caught fire in what
became the worst disaster in Nevada history. The cause of
that fire was later determined to have started in the kitchen
Less than three months later, on Feb. 11, 1981, a devastating
fire erupted at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel while the building
was being retrofitted with modern fire safety equipment.
Eight people died in the Hilton fire which was later determined
to have been started by an arsonis