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Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Fire Department

MGM Hotel Fire - Nov. 21, 1980

 


The MGM Grand fire as seen from Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.

On the morning of Nov. 21, 1980, 85 people died and more than 700 were injured as a result of a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel. This was the second largest life-loss hotel fire in United States history.

It was determined during the investigation that the fire originated in the wall soffit of the side stand in the Deli, one of five restaurants located on the casino level. The investigators concluded that several factors contributed to the cause of the fire but the primary source of ignition was an electrical ground fault. 

 


The view of the MGM Grand Fire looking northeast from I-15.

At the time the fire was discovered, the restaurant was not yet opened for business.

At approximately 7:05 a.m., a supervisor of a marble and tile setting crew entered the Deli to examine the premises for broken tiles.

The employee first observed a reflection of a flickering light and, upon closer inspection, discovered a wall of flame traveling from the countertop to the ceiling. He immediately notified MGM security about the fire and proceeded to secure a hose line and fire extinguisher.

 


The destruction inside the casino.

The employee repeatedly attempted to contain the fire but - by that time - the heat, smoke and pressure buildup was so intense that he was knocked down each time he tried to enter the Deli. Realizing the gravity of the situation, he decided to leave the area.

At the same time, other employees noticed the spreading fire and tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the growing flames.

Within six minutes of the time of discovery, the total casino area was involved in fire, at a burning rate of approximately 15 to 19 feet per second!

 


The hotel main entrance and canopy area.

The Clark County Fire Department received the call reporting the fire at 7:17 a.m. Captain Rex Smith, Engineer Chad Marshal, and Firefighters Bert Sweeney, Toby Lamuraglia, and Ted Singer arrived in Engine 11 at 7:19 a.m. They positioned the 1,500 GPM fire engine at the North entrance of the casino and implemented the High Rise Preplan.

Upon entering the casino, the crew observed black smoke emitting from the Deli. They were only forty feet into the hotel when a huge fireball burst out of the Deli and rolled into the casino, hustling the crew out of the building. The company made it back to the engine as the flames sprang out the front of the entrance.


The official investigation report contains a detailed account of this fire and its cause. As a result of the many inquiries into this tragedy, the Clark County Fire Department has made the findings of their investigation available to the general public.

Please note that this report is considered public information and may be distributed or copied for non-commercial educational purposes. Altering any part of the report is strictly prohibited.

To view the report, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software capable of reading files in PDF format. Adobe Acrobat Reader is free and can be downloaded from the Adobe website.

View the MGM Fire Investigation Report