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Media Release


Monday, December 17, 2012
For Immediate Release
Fire & Rescue

Contact: Tim Szymanski
Telephone: 303-2993


Fatal Fire Believed To Be Accidental
Careless Smoking Could Not Be Ruled Out As Cause of Fire


Las Vegas fire investigators believe the fire that took the life of a woman at the Sunrise Garden Apartments was accidental in nature. One person lost their life in the blaze and another was hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Eight units were damaged by the fire. The American Red Cross assisted at least 12 people who were displaced by the fire.

Fire dispatchers received several calls at 8:49 Friday night that flames and smoke were showing from one of the buildings at the Sunrise Garden Apartments at 3601 El Conlin Ave. (Valley View/Sahara). When firefighters arrived on scene, heave flames and smoke were showing from the second floor of the eight unit building and spreading to other units. A second alarm was dispatched to the help battle the blaze

The apartment buildings at Sunrise Gardens are unique. Called “quads” the buildings consist of four upstairs and four downstairs units in each building. Each building has a common living room and kitchen in the middle on each floor that is shared by sleeping areas of which there are four on each floor.  

As firefighters ascended up the stairs, they found a woman who was unresponsive. She was immediately given advance life support by paramedics on scene and transported to the trauma unit at University Medical Center. She was later pronounced dead at the hospital. It appears she was overcome by smoke; the exact cause of death is still under investigation by the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

Firefighters attacked the fire and were able to bring it under control in 10 minutes. The fire caused extensive damage to the four units upstairs and the four units on the first floor sustained moderate damage. Damage was estimated at $200,000.

Occupants told fire investigators they awoke when the smoke alarms activated. When one of the occupants opened the door to his room to the common area, he observed the sofa in the living room on fire. He attempted to put the fire out using a water bottle, but he did not succeed. He went to the kitchen to refill the bottle, by the time he returned the sofa was heavily involved with fire and he decided to evacuate. Another occupant in another unit first ignored the smoke alarms and tried to disconnect the one in his room to make it stop, but the others in the building kept sounding, he decided to look out from his unit to see what was going on. He found the common area full of black smoke; he barely escaped with his life.

Fire investigators determined the fire originated in the sofa, but the exact cause could not be determined. All other accidental sources such as electrical or heaters were ruled out, smoking material was found. The fire did not appear to be intentionally set. Careless smoking could not be ruled out.

One other woman was also transported to the hospital for minor smoke inhalation. Her injury was not life threatening.

The American Red Cross was assisting management to place displaced people in other units.

There were no injuries to first responders.
If it is confirmed this is a fatality due to the fire, it will be the fifth in the city of Las Vegas this year. Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires both in Las Vegas as well as the rest of the country. Most deaths occur in the evening and overnight when people are sleeping and have difficulty escaping. Smoke alarms did save the lives of the other people in the building.

The incident remains under investigation pending the coroner’s report.


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