Las Vegas Sun

May 21, 2019

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Fast-burning artificial trees spread blaze at Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan Fire

Courtesy photo

A fire broke out Saturday, July 25, 2015, at the Cosmopolitan. The blaze was at the Bamboo Pool on the casino’s rooftop.

Video from the scene

Cosmopolitan Fire

A fire broke out Saturday, July 25, 2015, at the Cosmopolitan. The blaze was at the Bamboo Pool on the casino's rooftop. Launch slideshow »

One person was hospitalized after a fast-spreading fire at the 14th floor Bamboo Pool at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas sent plumes of black smoke over the Strip on Saturday afternoon, and the pool and parts of the hotel remain closed indefinitely.

The fire caused the closure of a main portion of Las Vegas Boulevard for about 45 minutes and created a panic among hotel guests, witnesses said. The cause is unknown, according to the Clark County Fire Department; a witness told the Sun that employees think it was started by a cigarette tossed from one of the hotel’s top floors, or possibly discarded into a bush on the pool deck.

The fire started in a cabana and quickly burned the pool’s surrounding decorative trees, which are made of high-density foam and plastic and burn easily, said Fire Chief Greg Cassell.

“Once it got going, it jumped from tree to tree,” he said.

The fire was reported at 12:16 p.m. and extinguished by 12:47, Cassell said. One person was hospitalized for smoke inhalation; another was treated at the scene, he said.

Some of the hotel’s rooms sustained water damage from sprinklers, Cassell said. Smoke reached some floors because the windows of some rooms were open, he told the Associated Press. The 14th and 15th floors of the hotel's west tower will be closed until further notice, and some guests will be moved within the resort or to other properties, according to the AP.

Las Vegas Boulevard South was closed from Tropicana Avenue to Flamingo Road from 12:45 to about 1:30 p.m. About the same time, several areas of the Cosmopolitan, which opened in 2010 with 2,995 hotel rooms, were evacuated.

Hotel guest Christopher Thomas, who’s visiting from Denver with friends, said he’d been in the shower near the Bamboo Pool shortly before the blaze, then went to his room to change. Ten to 15 minutes later, he saw a big cloud of black smoke from his 20th floor room.

”I dropped everything and fled the room,” he said.

Thomas said he was shocked alarms weren’t going off, and that he tried to find an alarm to pull so he could warn others. People were running and panicking as he took the stairs, he said.

”It was one of those things where I thought, ‘Drop everything and get the hell out,’” Thomas said.

Guest Michael Cuestas and his wife are in town from Arizona for her birthday weekend, staying on the 21st floor of the hotel’s west tower.

”We heard a really loud pop and then a bunch of screams,” he said. They ran outside and saw flames and lots of black smoke, Cuestas said.

They initially were panicked, then realized that only the palm trees around the pool were on fire, not the entire pool area. They returned to their room to retrieve wallets and shoes.

”We probably hung around longer than we should have,” Cuestas said.

The pair were headed for the lobby when the elevator they were in stopped. A voice on the loudspeaker told them to exit and take the stairs.

Las Vegas-area resident Matthew Lee, 22, said he was staying at the hotel with friends from Los Angeles to give them a “Vegas experience.” He said he was staying on the 58th floor and wanted to go to the pool, then saw a huge cloud of smoke, looked down and saw flames.

Lee said he called guest services and was told everything was OK, and to await further instructions. After that, “the loudspeaker told us to evacuate,” he said.

The Bamboo Pool is one of three pools listed on the Cosmopolitan’s website. The Bamboo Pool, the site says, is the “ultimate Las Vegas relaxation pool” in a “soothing environment with a private canyon-like feel.” The hotel’s other pools are the Marquee Day Club Pool and the Boulevard Pool, scene of big-name concert acts.

Las Vegas Fire & Medical crews assisted. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The blaze came more than seven years after a blaze on the facade and upper floors of the Monte Carlo did an estimated $80 million in damage. In 1980, a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino killed 87 people and injured 700 others.

Staff writers John Taylor and Adwoa Fosu contributed to this report.

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