Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2015

Currently: 50° — Complete forecast

Flames Engulf Under-Construction Observation Tower

Flames engulfed an under-construction observation tower Sunday, forcing hundreds of gamblers to flee the adjacent 22-story Vegas World Hotel Casino. No one was hurt.

The fire broke out on the Stratosphere Tower around midnight and raged for three hours until burning itself out, fire officials said. Flames leaping into the early morning sky could be seen for miles, and Las Vegas Boulevard became gridlocked before officials closed it to traffic.

Hundreds of guests evacuated the 1,049-room Vegas World casino and hotel but were allowed to return a few hours later.

Guest Gilbert Scheeringa of Tucson, Ariz., said he heard two big explosions and looked out "to see flames falling past my window."

The cause of the fire wasn't known, but Fire Chief Clell West said there was no indication of arson. The fire was fed by plywood construction materials and equipment inside the concrete tower.

"We don't know whether the fire started at the top or the bottom," West said. "It could have started in the middle and gone either way."

The tower, which is about half completed, rises about 500 feet above the northern edge of the Las Vegas Strip. The finished version is to stand 1,012 feet high, and promotional material says it will be the tallest free-standing observation tower in the United States.