Thursday, April 7, 1955 | 6 a.m.
A spectacular fire that inflicted heavy damage on one wing of the $2.5 million Moulin Rouge hotel, 900 West Bonanza, yesterday climaxed the Las Vegas Fire department's busiest day in history. Fireman answered five calls within 12 hours from early morning to mid-afternoon. Another fire completely destroyed a used furniture store at 830 S. Main street.
The Moulin Rouge fire swept across the attic of a wing under construction and nearly destroyed the second floor of the wing. First Capt. A. R. Trelease said there was no estimate of the amount of damage, believed to be in five figures, but he said it was "extensive." He indicated it would probably set construction work on the wing back several weeks.
However, Thomas A. Foley, attorney for the hotel, said completion of the wing will have no effect on the opening of the hotel, expected in May or June, because the owners had intended to open before it is completed.
Captain Trelease estimated there are 40 to 50 rooms in the wing that caught fire. The fire apparently was started, he said by heat generated from a blow torch in the hands of one of the plumbers working in a second floor room.
He said the workman, one of 50 or 60 on the job at the hotel yesterday, was "sweating" joints of a pipeline in the room. Heat either from the torch or from the red hot pipes in the room started a blaze which licked upward to the attic.
The attic, unprotected by fire walls, acted as perfect flue through which the flames roared from one end of the building to the other, Captain Trelease said. It destroyed the roof of the building and leaked down into other rooms on the second floor, engulfing ceilings and partially damaging walls.
Trelease said several of his men, battling the blaze from the rooftop, fell through weak spots where the flames singed the inside of the roof. He reported no injuries, however.
The fire department laid 6400 feetmore than a mileof hose yesterday and used every piece of equipment available. Some wet hose, returned to the station after the busy day, had to be repacked on trucks.
Ordinary regulations call for only dry hose to be place on trucks, Captain Trelease said, but "there wasn't a dry hose in the house." Reason for packing only dry hose, he said, is to protect it against deterioration.
The City Furniture Exchange, 830 South Main street, was completely destroyed in an early morning fire. Trelease said the building was completely so gutted that it was impossible to determine the origin of the fire. The fire was first spotted by two patrolling policeman shortly before 5 a.m. The fire was well under way at that time, Trelease said.
Police diverted traffic from a two-block section on a busy Main street for three and a half hours while firemen waged a futile battle with the flames, The roof and walls collapsed and the inside of the store was converted into a smoldering ruin.
Julius Corn and Herb Tobman, operators of the used furniture store, told the SUN the owner of the property, Walter Bates, promised he would replace the building and they could take occupancy again at the same location.
Also destroyed in the fire was a Nash automobile belonging to Corn, which was parked next to the building. He told Trelease that the furniture in the store, also destroyed, was covered by insurance. Coverage on the vehicle, however, expired a few days ago.
The fire department answered three other calls during the day in which damage was slight to moderate.
A short in an electric blanket started a blaze which caused minor damage to the home of Orion Sims at 8171Ž2 South Second street.