Las Vegas, NV Hilton Hotel Fire, Feb 1981
"We looked out the window and it was awful scary seeing the chopper and the lights," said his wife, Deborah, after their escape from their 23rd floor room. "We saw windows breaking and people screaming. We felt trapped."
Joseph Adolf, a conventioneer from Chicago, headed for the roof from his 29th story room.
"When we got to the roof, we saw flames coming up the elevator shaft through the building. So we ran over to the other side of the roof. When we saw flames there, we started to get nervous," he said.
Within minutes, helicopters began taking people to safety.
Graham Kemp, of Brisbane, Australia, was having dinner in one of the five restaurants when an announcement over the public address system told guests to leave. "There was a sort of stunned silence for about 10 seconds, and everyone just got up and left. There was no panic at all," he said.
Hundreds of evacuees huddled in the Las Vegas Convention Center across the street. Red Cross and Civil Defense workers set up hundreds of cots and handed out blankets, coffee and doughnuts.
Authorities of Desert Springs Hospital, Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, Sunrise Hospital and Valley Hospital said at least 242 people were treated for injuries, mostly smoke in halation. Of those, 96 were admitted.
Six people, including one firefighter, were hospitalized in critical condition. Two of them were taken to coronary care units.
A spokesman for the Las Vegas Hilton, which is about two miles from the Flamingo Hilton, said four conventions were under way at the hotel and it was fully booked.
Eight Strip resorts including the Hilton had at times been warned about improperly working fire exits, missing or empty fire extinguishers, unlighted fire exit signs and clogged sprinkler heads, according to a check of Clark County files.
Deputy Fire Marshall Don Fitzgerald had said such violations are "an ongoing problem" but "in all probability are not going to lead to a disaster like the MGM Grand fire." Most had been taken care of soon after the hotels were notified, he said.
In an interview following the MGM Grand fire, Hilton manager Fritz Huebler said that his hotel
"has the highest degree of safety. Like everyone else, we review it every month or so."
Ravenholt identified seven victims of the Hilton blaze as:
DENNIS EMERY McFARLAND, 32, Boone, Ia.
FRANK ALAN GREENFIELD, 22, West Bloomfield, Mich.
ROBERT NICHOLS LEACH, 54, Honolulu, Hi.
HARRY GAINES, no age available.
LORRAINE GAINES, his wife, no age available, Los Angeles, Calif.
ZENY SANTOS CARVALHO, 64, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
JACK TURINSKY, 41, Anchorage, Alaska.
Alton Telegraph Illinois 1981-02-11
Note: PHILIP BRUCE CLINE, 23, was charged with eight counts of murder and one of arson, as a result of this disaster.