32nd anniversary marked of deadly MGM Grand fire
Today is the 32nd anniversary of the MGM Grand fire in Las VegasPhoto: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV ) -- Wednesday marks the 32nd anniversary of the MGM Grand hotel and casino fire in Las Vegas.
It was the second worse hotel fire in the history of the United States. A fire in 1946 at the Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta killed 119 people.
The fire broke out just after 7 a.m. on Nov. 21, 1980 in the wall near a serving station at The Deli.
The fire smoldered for hours in the wall before it finally broke out.
All 26 floors of the hotel filled quickly with smoke and most of the deaths were caused by smoke inhalation.
Eighty-seven people died that day and seven hundred others were injured. Five thousand people were in the hotel at the time of the fire.
The fire may have been stopped before it spread if the hotel-casino had sprinklers.
However, hotel executives fought their installation because it would have added more than $190,000 onto the cost of the $106 million hotel-casino. And they were not a requirement at that time.
The lack of sprinklers was not the only reason that the fire spread so quickly and was so deadly.
The fire alarms also did not sound because they had to be pulled manually and that was not done.
A report after the fire found 83 building code violations.
As a result of the fire and the following investigation and report, many changes were made to how hotel-casinos were constructed and the fire prevention measures that would be required.
Nevada also instituted a retrofit law requiring older hotels to install sprinkler systems.
The hotel-casinos in Las Vegas are now among the safest in the world.
The MGM Grand fire also marked the beginning of efforts to get every firefighter an air pack.
Back in 1980, many firefighters ran into the building with nothing more than a handkerchief covering their faces.
It was also the first fire that made it clear that smoke inhalation is a more serious threat than flames in almost all fires.
Three months later, a fire -- set by an arsonist -- broke out at the Las Vegas Hilton. Eight people died during that incident.
But, it was because of knowledge gained by firefighters during the fire at the MGM Grand that only 8 people died in that fire.
The Las Vegas Hilton was in the process of being retrofitted with modern fire safety equipment at the time.
A room service busboy for the Hilton, Philip Cline, was sentenced to eight life sentences for setting the fire.
The MGM Grand reopened just eight months after its fire. In 1985, it was sold and renamed Bally's.
The new MGM Grand was constructed on the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South. It opened in 1993 and is the third largest hotel in the world.