By Snejana Farberov 03:24 GMT 19 Aug 2012, updated 11:04 GMT 19 Aug 2012 Mgm grand hotel & casino.
Tragedy revisited: Haunting black-and-white images capture deadly 1980 MGM Grand Hotel fire
Few people visiting Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas remember today that the landmark establishment situated on the glittering Strip was one the site of Nevada’s most devastating fire that took the lives of more than 80 people.
The blaze broke out inside the establishment known at the time as MGM Grand Hotel and Casino early in the morning on November 21, 1980, taking the lives of 87 people and leaving some 650 others injures.
The first firefighters arrived on the scene to find desperate hotel guests breaking windows and attempting to escape with ropes made from blankets.
Fire alarms did not sound and guests were made aware of the emergency only after seeing smoke filling their rooms via the air vents.
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Although over 200 firefighters arrived on the scene to rescue the hotel’s stranded patrons, evacuation efforts were complicated as fire department ladders could only reach nine floors of the 26-story hotel.
The deadliest fire in Nevada’s history broke out in the early morning of Friday, November 21, in The Deli restaurant on the main floor of the hotel.
The fire then smoldered for hours before entering a catwalk area above the casino and exploding through the ceiling.
Flames fueled by flammable furnishings, moldings and construction materials found in the casino then raced towards the main entrance, blowing through the doors in a huge fireball.
Not before long, flames and smoke had engulfed the building, leaving death and destruction in their wake. At the time of the incident, about 5,000 people were staying at the hotel, and it took first responders about four hours to evacuate the building.
The 26-story resort quickly filled with smoke as the fire spread, forcing trapped guests to await rescue from exterior balconies. About 300 people had to be airlifted from the roof via nine helicopters from Nellis Air Force Base, including two HH-53 'Jolly Green Giants.
Construction workers from C&,E Concrete who were employed at the 760-room addition to the MGM Grand Hotel joined firefighters in battling the conflagration after seeing the flames ignite.
Construction of the MGM hotel started in 1972 and it opened in December of 1973. There were 2,078 rooms at the hotel and the total area was approximately two million square feet, according to the site Firehouse.
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The total construction cost of the hotel was $106 million, and apparently the owners made a decision to forgo installing a sprinkler system that cost $192,000.
Expert contended that the fire would have been quickly extinguished had the MGM been properly equipped with a sprinkler system.