Tuesday, March 20, 2001 | 11:16 a.m.
A methamphetamine lab exploded late Monday in a condominium of the exclusive Regency Towers, causing a blaze that forced about 80 people from their homes in the middle of the night.
Clark County and Las Vegas firefighters contained the fire to one condominium, but smoke and water damaged several other units in the the 28-floor tower in the 3100 block of Bel Air Drive near Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn Road.
The fire was in a corner condominium on the 18th floor, forcing the evacuation of the 18th and 19th floors because of the fire and the 27th and 28th floors because of smoke, said Steve La-Sky, Clark County Fire Department spokesman.
The damage was estimated at about $250,000 to the condominium, but could go higher as smoke and water damaged other homes, fire officials said. There were no injuries.
Marilyn Greene, 43, who apparently moved into the Regency Towers a couple of months ago, was arrested early this morning after Metro Police found the remnants of the exploded meth lab and cooked meth.
Greene was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of marijuana, police said. Greene was held this morning in the Clark County jail.
She fled the apartment after the explosion, went down the street and made several 911 calls. Metro Police picked her up a few blocks from the high-rise building and charged her early this morning, said Officer Tirso Dominguez, a department spokesman.
Greene was apparently living with a 70-year-old man who was out of town at the time of the fire, Dominguez said.
Regency Towers opened at the Las Vegas Country Club in the 1970s and has been home to the city's elite from developers to celebrities.
When it was built 25 years ago there were 226 units and only eight were sold at the time. Then it went into foreclosure. Developer Irwin Molasky was one of the buyers who wanted to see the building succeed. He bought it, renovated it and sold the rest of the units. He no longer resides there.
Celebrities who currently own units include comedians George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield and entertainer Debbie Reynolds, though she currently is not living there. Late Desert Inn boss Moe Dalitz also lived at the Regency.
Dr. Rupert Perrin, one of the nation's top Russian art collectors, lives in the towers, where he keeps part of his multimillion-dollar collection.
Before her conviction in the murder of casino executive Ted Binion, Sandra Murphy was also a resident.
Burton Cohen, who ran the Desert Inn in the 1980s and often was featured in the hit television series "Vega$" lives in the Regency Towers. He was spotted in the lobby after the blast, holding his blind Yorkie.
The Regency Towers, with its homes ranging from several hundred thousands of dollars to more than $1 million, is not a common setting for a meth lab operation, police said.
Police and firefighters have had a ongoing problem with the drug and meth labs throughout the city. Police constantly get reports of operating labs, and firefighters are forced to houses and apartments when the labs explode.
"A lot of time it is those weekly rental motels where someone goes in and sets up a meth lab," La-Sky said. "A lot of times they are found when neighbors notice a smell (of chemicals used to cook up meth) and call police."
The fire was contained to one apartment, but went to two alarms because the building is a high rise and the fire was at a time when many people would be at home or asleep, La-Sky said.