Las Vegas Sun

February 12, 2016

fire investigation:

Probe into Moulin Rouge fire finds human link

Arson, cooking are possible causes of May 6 blaze, officials say

Moulin Rouge Fire

Firefighters from three area fire departments battled a four-alarm blaze for more than two hours at the historic Moulin Rouge hotel and casino Wednesday. Las Vegas Fire Department investigators will begin a thorough examination of the smoldering ruins as soon as the building is safe.

Moulin Rouge fire

Firefighters work to control a blaze in an apartment building at the old Moulin Rouge hotel and casino on Bonanza Road. The apartments were supposed to have been vacant were destined to be torn down, officials said. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Fire Department investigators said today there is a human link to the May 6 four-alarm fire at the Moulin Rouge.

Fire officials said the 54-year-old landmark near downtown Las Vegas was "incendiary," meaning people were involved in the fire, said Jace Radke, a spokesman for the city of Las Vegas.

At this point, neither arson nor vagrants cooking in the two-story apartment building at the historic building on Bonanza Road can be eliminated, Radke said.

"It's an ongoing investigation," Radke said.

Bulldozers began tearing down the smoldering ruins during the afternoon following the fire last month.

Firefighters from three area fire departments battled the blaze for more than two hours at the front of the Moulin Rouge hotel and casino. The fire sent a plume of gray smoke into the sky and threatened nearby structures, which prompted the blaze to reach four-alarm status.

There were no injuries reported and no one was found in what was left of the building.

The fire occurred in part of the hotel that had been converted to apartment units but were unoccupied at the time. The investigation into the fire's cause is continuing.

The Moulin Rouge has been slated for a revival several times in its colorful past.

An arson fire destroyed all but the neon sign, the hotel's façade and part of the structures in the historic building at 900 W. Bonanza Road on May 29, 2003.

The building was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The Moulin Rouge closed in 1997, a shell of its former self.

The original hotel-casino opened on May 24, 1955, and had a wood-framed structure with wooden shingles.

Although the Moulin Rouge had its heydey in the first year of operation, its historical significance in Las Vegas and to America's civil rights movement remains indelible, Las Vegas historians noted.

The hotel has a lasting legacy in integration in Las Vegas, the only hotel and casino in the city that allowed black patrons.

In March 1960 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and community leaders met at the Moulin Rouge to broker a deal with the white casino owners to end segregation practices on the Las Vegas Strip.

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