Fountains sprayed and the “Pink Panther Theme” played while gusty winds whipped flames across the roof of the retail complex at the Bellagio Resort located on the Las Vegas strip. With a heavy firefighter response of more than 70 firefighters, the blaze was knocked down in 30 minutes. Officials suspect an exterior electrical or lighting malfunction started the blaze melting the Exterior Installation and Finish System and causing more than $400,000 in damage on the roof. The hotel and casino were not affected by the blaze and remained open. No injuries were reported. Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mike Shoro reports.
A wind-whipped fire burned a section of the Bellagio’s exterior wall near the roof late Thursday, closing a portion of the as Vegas Strip as firefighters battled the blaze.
The fire, which burned for less than 30 minutes along the building’s roof line above retail shops on the north side of the Bellagio’s famed fountain, prompted a large fire department and police response, both due to windy conditions and difficulties accessing the area where the fire was burning.
An initial estimate put the damage to the building at $400,000 to $450,000. The stores were closed at the time of the fire and the flames didn’t reach the interior of the shops.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze, but are focusing on exterior electrical and lighting systems, Deputy Chief Jeff Buchanan of the Clark County Fire Department said Friday.
The fire drew comparisons to a Jan. 25, 2008, fire at the nearby Monte Carlo that scorched the building’s upper façade. Both blazes involved a flammable building material known as Exterior Installation and Finish System — EIFS for short.
The Monte Carlo fire caused substantial damage to the upper six floors of the 32-story hotel-casino and forced its closure for more than a week.
The quick response of Clark County firefighters kept the disruption at the Bellagio to a minimum and limited the damage.
Nobody was injured, no rooms at the hotel-casino at 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, were affected and no mass evacuations were necessary, Deputy Chief Roy Session said.
Crews were first called about 10:45 p.m., and units arrived at 10:50 p.m. The fire was knocked down about 11:10 p.m. Session credited the training of the firefighters for being able to quickly access the roof.
“Our guys who work this area of town knew this hotel like the back of their hands,” Session said.
Strong winds helped the fire spread quickly, he said.
“We called a second alarm because it was burning so fast,” Session said. “They did a great job of knocking it down so quickly.”
However, Assistant Fire Chief Larry Haydu wrote in a release that fighting this fire was “extremely difficult” based on where it was and how crews could get to it.
Session later elaborated and said crews used a “deck gun” to knock down the fire. A deck gun helps crews fight fires from a distance, which was essential at Bellagio.
“We couldn’t get too close to it from where it was,” Session said.
Crews then sent firefighters up onto the roof. After knocking down the flames, firefighters checked for any remaining possible hot spots.
Session said it took 12 firefighters to knock down the blaze. In total, 77 personnel worked the call, Haydu wrote in the release.
Metropolitan Police Department assisted with traffic control. Lt. Carlos Hank said police directed traffic at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.
“The Metropolitan Police Department (ensured) traffic safety and pedestrian safety,” he said.
Jill Long of Pittsburgh said she could see the fire from the balcony of her hotel room at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, as well as debris flying from the fire and into the lake next to the retail shops. She said she heard sirens from far away about 10:45 p.m. but they “kept getting louder.”
“We didn’t know if it was a car that flipped over or something like that,” Long said. “There was just a lot of fire and a lot of smoke.”
She could smell the smoke from her balcony. She walked from The Cosmopolitan and cut through Bellagio to get to Flamingo Road. About 90 minutes after the fire started, she said a foul odor still lingered inside Bellagio.
“You can smell that sulfur,” Long said. “It smells terrible.”
Another visitor, Adrea Sloniker from Seattle, stood near the Bellagio fountain and watched crews work on the retail shops’ roof. She was surprised it took five minutes for the Fire Department to arrive.
“It seemed like forever,” she said.
She was staying at Flamingo, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd. South, and saw the flames from across Las Vegas Boulevard. She watched the flames grow and thick, black smoke “pour” into the air. Gawkers gathered nearby to watch the fire.
“Did anyone even bother calling 911? Did they even have a clue what’s going on?” Sloniker wondered.
At the fire’s start, Sloniker said she was confused. She was looking for authorities to direct people what to do or where to go, but she said there were none.