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October 18, 2018

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List of Las Vegas hotel fires through the years

Fires like Saturday's are a rare occurrence on the Strip, where a deadly blaze at what is now Bally's in 1980 prompted major updates in fire safety design and equipment at resorts.

However, a number of fires have broken out in Las Vegas hotels over the years. Here are some of them, from Sun archives and a 2008 retrospective list of hotel fires.

May 31, 2014 — Authorities shut down part of Tropicana Avenue and an Interstate 15 offramp after a fire that appeared to have been sparked in a housekeeping linen cart filled part of the Excalibur with smoke. Firefighters quickly doused the flames, and no one was injured. Damage was estimated at $25,000.

March 15, 2012 — An arsonist set a fire in a room under renovation at the Golden Nugget. A homeless man who was charged with setting the fire suffered serious injuries.

Jan. 25, 2008 — A fire at the Monte Carlo casino-hotel injured 17 people, most suffering from smoke inhalation, and closed the Strip resort for three weeks. Workers who did not have proper welding permits accidentally sparked the fire with molten metal from a hand-held cutting torch, according to Clark County Fire Department inspectors.

2005 — A three-alarm fire at the Aztec Inn, just north of Sahara Avenue on the Strip, forced the evacuation of the casino and caused an estimated $200,000 in damages but no injuries. At the time, it was the third fire that the hotel suffered in several weeks, but fire investigators did not connect the trio of blazes.

Feb. 18, 2003 — A pre-dawn smoky fire at the Aladdin hotel and casino, sparked by a lit cigarette in a laundry chute, caused the evacuation of the 21st and 22nd floors and resulted in six people being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

2003 — The historic Moulin Rouge hotel and casino on West Bonanza Road burned to the ground in May. It was the first hotel in Las Vegas where black entertainers who performed on the Strip could stay. Fred Ball, 45, and John Antwan Caver, 29, were arrested on arson charges.

July 1998 — Fire investigators believed that lightning sparked a fire that erupted on the 21st floor of Palace Station .

1998 — The Las Vegas Hilton Hotel reported $1 million in damages from a two-alarm fire that forced the evacuation of six floors, but no one was injured.

1986 — Thomas Edward Little Owl, born on a Montana Indian reservation, was convicted of setting a string of fires at Strip hotels in early 1986. He was sentenced in December 1986 to 10 years in prison for an arson at the Sands Hotel.

Feb. 10, 1981 — An arson at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel killed eight people and injured scores more. A busboy lit an eighth-floor lobby curtain with a marijuana cigarette. Philip Bruce Cline was convicted of arson and is serving eight life terms, plus 15 years in state prison.

Nov. 21, 1980 — The second worse hotel blaze in United States history, the MGM Grand Hotel fire (the worst was at Atlanta’s Winecoff Hotel), took 87 lives and injured 700 people. Nevada enacted statewide regulations protecting high-rise hotels with sprinkler systems and alarms after the blaze. The resort is now Bally's.

Aug. 25, 1964 — A fire that started on the roof of the Sahara hotel-casino sent gamblers out into the street and caused an estimated $1 million in damage before firefighters put out the blaze. A handful of people were treated for smoke inhalation, including hotel executive Herb McDonald. The fire ignited from a spark from a welder's torch during the installation of an air conditioning unit.

June 17, 1960 — El Rancho Vegas burned to the ground, as entertainers Pearl Bailey and Betty Grable fled the flames. The hotel’s famous neon-lit windmill toppled in the blaze.

April 7, 1955 — A spectacular fire heavily damaged one of the second floor wings of the under construction Moulin Rouge hotel.

1943 — The Meadows Hotel and Casino, built in 1931, burned down when the Las Vegas Fire Department ignored the alarm, because the Meadows was outside the city limits, east of Fremont Street and Charleston Boulevard.

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