Where most people see charred remains of a burned apartment building, fire investigators see a giant puzzle to be solved. And they do solve it.
The Las Vegas Sun got a behind-the-scenes look at a fire from the perspective of fire investigators for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue. They respond to blazes that have reached two-alarm status, injured people, caused more than $50,000 in damage, involved city property or seemed suspicious in nature.
It was 31 years ago today, at about 8 p.m., that a fire ripped through the Las Vegas Hilton — once known as the International Hotel and now as LVH – Las Vegas Hotel — trapping some guests in hotel rooms while others used sheets to climb to safety.
Eight people died and 200 were injured. Damage was estimated at $13 million.
The Las Vegas Sun reported the next day that “enormous clouds of smoke billowed from the 2,300-room hotel. Hundreds of onlookers thronged around the hotel, creating massive traffic problems for Metro police. There were reports that fights broke out among people milling outside the hotel.”
Investigators later said a busboy set an eighth-floor lobby curtain on fire with a marijuana cigarette, starting the fire. Philip Bruce Cline was convicted of arson and is serving eight life terms plus 15 years in state prison.