The Sky Is Falling! (oops) Burning Pieces of the Hotel are Falling!

Yesterday, there were a number of posts (by others) on the fire at the Monte Carlo hotel and resort in Las Vegas. I wanted to comment at the time, but was waiting for more information. Today’s LVRJ has a good article on the fire–one of the best I’ve seen.

For those not familiar with the Monte Carlo, it was built in 1996 on land that previously housed a number of small motels, in particular the Desert Rose Motel. It was built by Wynn Resorts, with a theatre especially constructed for Lance Burton, the magician. The hotel is considered mid-price, and has no particular theming. It is now owned by MGM Grand resorts.

Yesterday, a fire started on the roof of the resort; some believe the cause to be some welders working there. It spread across the roof through construction foam on the facade. No rooms were damaged, except by water. However, the fire did bring back memories of both the disasterous fire at the Bally’s Resort (nee Bally’s Grand, nee MGM Grand (no connection to the current MGM Grand)), as well as the fire at the Las Vegas Hilton. Of course, there were even older fires — in particlar the fire that destroyed one of the original Las Vegas Resorts, the El Rancho Vegas. Other casinos in the area have also been destroyed by fire, including the Gold Strike near Boulder Dam, and the fire that destroyed what was left of the Moulin Rouge.

Luckily, thanks to the code improvements from those previous fires, there were no significant injuries. A few went to hospitals, and some of those were simply for lack of medication. What was more interesting to me was the response of the folks in the hotel, which seems to have only been reported in the LVRJ article. Although the hotel officials ordered an immediate evacuation:

“…many guests said the building had been burning for some time before they were told to leave by employees banging on doors or a public-address announcement. Others said they didn’t wait to be told to evacuate.

British tourist Matthew Hepples, in Las Vegas for a wedding, said he approached a group of housekeepers in the hall after hearing a fire alarm announcement.

“I asked the cleaners what was happening,” the 35-year-old said. “They said, ‘Fire drill.’ They didn’t seem too concerned.”

He got out anyway.

Inside the Monte Carlo poker room, the gambling didn’t stop even after a casino floor television came on with live footage of the fire, said Rich Vetterl, a 53-year-old chemist from North Carolina.

“It was strange playing poker and watching the building burn,” he said. “It was almost like being on the Titanic as it was going down. It was surreal.”

After several minutes, the dealer at the table waved her arms, stopped play and told everybody to evacuate. The poker players calmly stood up and left, with many taking time to cash out their chips, he said.”

Although the article indicated there were complaints about the hotel’s evacuation procedures, I think the larger problem was human nature: it looks like folks didn’t believe the alarms, or appear concerned. Yet, if the hotel had paniced, they would have complained as well.

In fact, the hotel seems to be doing the right thing. Not only have they found rooms for all displaced, and all those with reservations at the Monte Carlo, but they are taking care of the staff while the hotel is closed:

In a statement Friday evening, Monte Carlo President Anton Nikodemus said the resort’s employees would receive pay, health and welfare benefits and toke and tip replacement for 30 days or until the hotel-casino reopens.

I think that’s pretty impressive.