Welding possible factor in Las Vegas casino fire, official says

LAS VEGAS " Welding on the Monte Carlo rooftop might be a factor in the three-alarm fire that forced the Strip hotel-casino to empty on Friday, a hotel executive said.

But Alan Feldman, a senior vice president of Monte Carlo owner MGM Mirage Inc., disagreed with Clark County fire officials about whether a proper permit was obtained for the work.

"It's probably safe and accurate to say that the investigation is focusing on the welding that was going on," Feldman told a Las Vegas newspaper.

However, Deputy Fire Chief Girard Page said the Fire Department had no record of an active "hot work" permit for that location on Friday. Hot work includes welding, soldering and brazing, techniques for connecting pieces of metal.

"This is where we get into a little bit of confusion about who is saying what to whom," Feldman said. He said the contractor doing the work generated proper "hot work" permit paperwork Friday morning at the Monte Carlo.

The welders also were working under a more general building permit issued Nov. 29 by the county building division for the installation of window-washing equipment, Feldman said.

Page would not comment on the investigation of the cause of the Monte Carlo blaze.

But the deputy chief said department procedures would call for the fire inspector responsible for any given hotel to be notified when welding was taking place.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said no schedule was set for completing the investigation of the fire's cause, and no timetable was established for reopening the 32-story hotel and casino.

It remains closed following a county Building Department order to remove or secure the damaged decorative facade. Once that work is done, Kulin said, the building could reopen.

Gordon Absher, an MGM Mirage spokesman, said several hundred construction workers would work around the clock on the project.


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