Anniversary of MGM Hotel Fire Reminds Las Vegas of Tragic Past

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of a wild fire that emerged at the MGM Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas back in 1980.  This particular casino is known as Bally’s today, after MGM sold the re-opened venue in 1985, and subsequently constructed a new casino on Tropicana Avenue.  The fire caused a lot of controversy for MGM at the time because it was discovered sprinklers had not been installed when the hotel was first constructed.  As a result, the fire cost 87 people their lives, and injured 700 more.  Inspections onsite after the fire uncovered 83 building code violations.

The fire began early in the morning on November 21, 1980 within a wall, where after several hours of ablaze it finally burned through the wall.  Within little time, all floors of the hotel were filled with smoke, and it was soon discovered the cause of death for most victims was a result of inhaling too much smoke.  Hotel room guests were at first unaware of the fire because the fire alarms had not been pulled to warn people.

The aftermath of the fire resulted in numerous changes to how Las Vegas hotels would be constructed in the future.  In particular, sprinklers became a mandatory installment for all hotel operators after it was made public knowledge that MGM did not install sprinklers to save $190,000.  Today Las Vegas hotels and casinos are considered to be among the safest in the world after the lessons learned by the deadly blaze.

The fire not only resulted in changes for the casinos, it helped change how firefighters would enter burning buildings.  The aftermath of the MGM fire resulted in a public campaign to provide all firefighters with air packs.  This helped give firefighters protection from dangerous smoke fumes, which were discovered to be a more serious threat than flames as a result of the 1980 fire.

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