Las Vegas, NV Hilton Hotel Fire, Feb 1981
8 DIE, 242 HURT IN SUSPICIOUS FIRE AT LAS VEGAS.
Las Vegas, Nev. (AP) -- Blow-torches of flame shot through an elevator shaft and up one side of the 30-story Las Vegas Hilton Tuesday night, as four separate fires "of suspicious origin" left eight pople dead and 242 injured.
Searchers went room-to-toom in the hotel's east wing today looking for possible additional victims in the gambling mecca's second major hotel blaze in three months.
Six people, including a firefighter, were hospitalized in critical condition following the fires, which included one major blaze that started on the eighth floor and three smaller fires on other floors. Most of the injured suffered smoke inhalation and were released after treatment.
A pillar of flames shot up the side of the 2,783 room hotel, the nation's largest, as hundreds of guests fled into the streets, lowered themselves to the ground on ropes of bedsheets or scrambled to the roof where helicopters plucked them to safety.
Guests on upper floors broke windows to scream for help and stairwells to the ground floor were jammed.
One victim died in a fall onto an outside deck, Clark County Coroner Otto Ravenholt said. The others died of smoke inhalation, he said.
"When we got outside, there were flames shooting up the side of the hotel. It looked like the "Towering Inferno," said Hank Arkin, a guest from Merrick, N.Y.
Singer Andy Williams and dancer Juliet Prowse were among the performers booked for Tuesday performances in the hotel showroom.
"The thing that really terrified me was looking out the back door and seeing the whole east wing elevator shaft on fire and people waving electric lamps out the window, a lot of torn sheets tied up," Williams said.
Fire Chief Roy Parrish said two men were being questioned about the blazes, which followed by less than three months a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel that killed 84 people and injured more than 700.
However, Clark County homicide Detective Michael Brady said "nobody is in custody for arson." He said six people were questioned about possible looting, but they were later released.
Security guards were posted at all entrances and in the casino area today, and guests returning for their belongings were told the hotel was under
"lock-up" and off-limits to all but investigators and key hotel and casino employees.
Manager Art Donovan said he had "no idea" when the hotel would reopen.
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