People look at fire damage at the Bellagio casino and resort, Friday, April 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. A fire official says a late Thursday blaze damaged decorative facing on the roof of a shopping and restaurant annex at the resort on the Las Vegas Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher)

At first, Vegas tourist thought fire part of Bellagio show

LAS VEGAS — A tourist wondered at first if the flames he saw whipping across the roof of a Bellagio resort shopping complex were part of the iconic dancing fountain show on the Las Vegas Strip.

Sean Kim told The Associated Press on Friday that he realized something was wrong when plastic-smelling smoke began billowing and police rushed to evacuate shop employees. Fire engines arrived and melting building material began dripping fireballs toward the fountain lake, he said.

“It was kinda unreal,” said Kim, who recorded cellphone video of the Thursday night fire. “At first I thought it was a pyrotechnics. We thought it was part of the show. Then we thought, ‘Huh. That doesn’t look right.’”

The 11 p.m. fountain show went on as scheduled, playing the “Pink Panther Theme” while a crowd of hundreds that had gathered for the top-of-the-hour water attraction doubled to watch firefighters work.

Gusty winds fanned the blaze, forcing employees out of tony stores such as Tiffany &Co. and Chanel. Pedestrian bridges to Bally’s and Caesars Palace closed, and busy Las Vegas Boulevard was shut down.

“The sidewalk was just packed with spectators,” said Kim, 30, of Los Angeles. “The smoke got bad, and we started leaving. It smelled like plastic burning.”

No one was injured, and damage was limited to the roof of the Via Bellagio shops. Assistant Clark County Fire Chief Larry Haydu said foam building material fueled the flames, which did not reach inside the mall.

It took 19 minutes to quell the blaze, which caused at least $400,000 in damage, Deputy Clark County Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan said. Officials suspect an exterior electrical or lighting malfunction sparked it, Buchanan said, but it could take a couple of weeks to complete the investigation.

County spokesman Erik Pappa said officials found no building code violations at the Bellagio.

Operations were not interrupted in the casino or the 36-story hotel with nearly 4,000 rooms, said Yvette Monet, spokeswoman for owner MGM Resorts International. She said the shops were either closed or closing at the time.

Buchanan said 77 firefighters attacked the fire from the ground first and then used a ladder that put them closer to the roof of the complex, which also features celebrity restaurants such as Todd English’s Olives and Lago by Julian Serrano.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the building material was the same type that burned in January 2008 atop the Monte Carlo hotel-casino a few blocks away, Haydu said.

That fire was sparked by welders on the roof. It forced the evacuation of 6,000 guests and employees and caused more than $100 million in damage and lost business at the 3,000-room resort.

Investigators found an improper type of resin had been used in two decorative elements near the top of the 32-story hotel, which helped the fire rip through the roof and facade.

Just Posted

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

New teaching standards applauded

New code of standards affecting teachers, principals and superintendents to kick in Sept. 1, 2019

UPDATED: Agriculture minister speaks to cattle producers

2018 Alberta Beef Industry Conference underway in Red Deer

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Seychelles swaps debt for groundbreaking marine protection

CURIEUSE ISLAND, Seychelles — With deep blue waters, white sand beaches and… Continue reading

Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump endorsed stricter gun-control measures Thursday, including raising… Continue reading

Red Deer blood clinic in need of 600 donors

Aunt encourages Central Albertans to donate blood after losing nephew

Court considers banning diesel cars in German cities

BERLIN — A German court began considering Thursday whether authorities should ban… Continue reading

US women beat Canada in Olympic hockey; Gisin tops Shiffrin

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — A tense shootout, a dazzling deke and… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month