The MGM Grand Hotel was a 23 story hotel and casino facility located at the intersection of East Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard, currently in use as Bally's Casino. The hotel consisted of 21 stories of guest rooms situated above two non-hotel stories- a double main level and casino and an interstitial space used for gaming floor security. The floors were numbered with an alternative numbering system used by the MGM Grand owners, depicted in Fig.1. Immediately adjacent to the casino and performance areas on the first floor to the east were a series of restaurants, clustered in the central portion of the building.
Construction on the building broke ground during 1972 and it was ultimately opened to the public in December of 1973. The building consisted of different construction types of varying efficacy with respect to fire protection. The hotel floors were resistant to fire and utilized a steel framing members which were protected by gypsum wall board (GWB) and reinforced concrete. Partitions were constructed from steel studs and GWB. The casino and interstitial levels were more sparsely protected; in some instances partitions did not fully extend above ceilings, an intention by the HVAC designer (NFPA, 1982). 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. At approximately 7:00 AM on November 21, an employee of The Deli restaurant (Plan in Fig. 2) first noticed a small fire in the kitchen area while arriving to work. This employee notified hotel security, who in turn notified the fire department. Security began to evacuate the casino floor shortly thereafter, with eyewitnesses also reporting a rapid appearance of smoke. Several guests were trained firefighters and assisted in the evacuation process; they noted that the fire began to superheat the area and penetrate the upper ceiling approximately three to four minutes after evacuation began (NFPA, 1982). 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. 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 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 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...
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