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October 19, 2019

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The band played on

Monte Carlo Burns

Smoke engulfs the Las Vegas skyline as the Monte Carlo burned for about an hour Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. Las Vegas and Clark County firefighters were able to contain the three-alarm fire that touched off on the top floors of the 32-story resort. At least seven people were injured in the nearly full 3,002-room hotel — the 13th largest in Las Vegas.

Monte Carlo Fire

The charred upper floors of the Monte Carlo show where a fire broke out Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. Launch slideshow »

Monte Carlo Quick Facts

  • Rooms: 3,002 (13th largest in Las Vegas)
  • Casino sq. footage: 102,197 (18th largest in Las Vegas)
  • Slot machines: 1,650
  • Tables: 75
  • Poker tables: 15
  • Sports book sq. footage: 5,628
  • Convention square footage: 23,000
  • Parent company: MGM MIrage
  • Year opened: 1996
  • Branded restaurants: Diablo’s Cantina, Andre’s French Restaurant, Monte Carlo Brew Pub, Dragon Noodle, Market City Caffe
  • Top exec: Anton Nikodemus, president
  • Headliner: Magician Lance Burton

Life in Las Vegas kept going on the Las Vegas Strip today -- even as flames shot out of the top floors of the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.

Some tourists continued to order Pina Coladas and Hurricanes at Fat Tuesdays, a little bar in the MGM Grand, across the street from the now scorched hotel. Others continued to play to slots or track their sports bets.

The fire was displayed on a small flat screen television in the corner of the bar. Guests took a peak as they waited for their frozen concoctions.

Outside, a section of Las Vegas Boulevard was closed between Tropicana and Harmon avenues. But pedestrians milled about with their camera phones, capturing images of the thick black smoke. The timeshare sellers still handed out show guides. The Adidas store still sold sneakers. And the food court was in full swing.

Mary Gerenday of Las Vegas was stationed outside the Grand Canyon Experience shop, handing out brochures promoting timeshares for the planned 50-story Planet Hollywood Towers by Westgate.

She never stopped, although she did take the time to whip out her cell phone and start taking photos.

"We were all shocked," Gerenday said. "It looked small at first but then it just kept growing and growing. Everyone stopped and just started gawking. The whole store here cleared out."

So did the Monte Carlo.

Eric Wappell, 23, was in town from San Pierre, Ind., for a convention, had been staying on the 30th floor of the Monte Carlo. He was scheduled to leave today.

“There was no alarms or anything,” he said. “My parents (who were also in Las Vegas) actually called and said the hotel was on fire.”

“I finished packing up real quick and got out,” he said.

As he exited he saw hotel maids knocking on doors, alerting people that, indeed, the building was burning.

Francisca Torres, a Monte Carlo housekeeper, was one of those people knocking on doors.

"We could smell the smoke and some of the guests panicked," Torres said.

"We were told to get the guests out of their rooms, but they had to leave their stuff."

The guests will not be able to retrieve their belongings until it passes fire department and county safety inspections. It hasn’t been determined how to return luggage to its owners. Guests at the Monte Carlo are being sent to the other MGM properties in Las Vegas.

Casino and hotel employees were sent to the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where they gathered on the second-level concourse. The arena floor was being converted to hold a private trade show.

But there was little pandemonium to the process.

As soon as the last waft of smoke was eliminated at 12:07 p.m. the gift shop got busy again. The curious onlookers found other things to look at.

The Monte Carlo was again just another 32-story building on the Strip – albeit one with a charred top.

The television at Fat Tuesdays was still on a local channel.

But it’s just a repeat of “Cops.” In Fresno.

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