Wednesday, May 1, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
Smoke from opening-night fireworks filled the pod of the Stratosphere Tower and set off alarms, shutting down elevators and stranding hundreds of invited guests.
Some people panicked when bells and sirens sounded Monday night. Crowds rushed frantically around the pod to the elevators.
One woman was overcome by smoke inhalation and was ushered to a stairwell where she was treated by Las Vegas Fire Department paramedics.
At the end of the fireworks display, several people in the tower shouted that the windows were on fire, but it turned out to be fizzling fireworks attached to the outside of the pod.
About 10:35 p.m. elevators in the 1,149-foot tower stopped working after smoke detectors went off midway through the fireworks show.
All elevators automatically went to the first pod floor and locked, said David Tatum, fire safety coordinator for the hotel.
Then a smoke evacuation system kicked into action, removing the fumes from the tower, he said.
Everything went the way it was supposed to operate, Tatum said, assuring guest safety on the top and on the ground.
Still, guests on the indoor observation deck found the themselves waiting 30 minutes to get down as the casino opened its doors to the public below.
Although it took less than an hour to remove the smoke, it might have seemed longer to those waiting to glimpse the glittering lights of Las Vegas, Tatum said.
The six-minute, $50,000 fireworks show by the Gucci family of Brookhaven, N.Y., from the 900-foot level lit up the southernmost end of downtown for the rest of the valley.
Smoke wafted into the tower when television camera cables snaking up the sides left doors propped open about an inch, Publicity Director Tom Bruny said.
"It wasn't that the smoke came through the windows or roof or anything like that. There wasn't anybody in danger," he said.
The Clark County Health District didn't detect any leftover smoke from the fireworks during the morning rush hour Tuesday, said Harold Glasser of the Air Pollution Control Division.
Although the air was stagnant Tuesday, the early-morning haze hung out near Sunrise Mountain, not the Stratosphere, Glasser said.
As to whether the hotel will host another fireworks spectacle, Tatum said he'll wait and see. "I don't know," he said. "They'll tell me if it happens.
"Meanwhile, it's a beautiful day in paradise," Tatum said, adding that all systems were functioning Tuesday for the public opening.