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Ex-Alpine Motel tenant sues over injuries suffered in deadly fire

Updated December 2, 2021 - 2:50 pm

A man who was injured jumping from a window to escape the deadly Alpine Motel Apartments fire in 2019 has filed a lawsuit against the building’s former owner.

When the pre-dawn fire broke out at the Alpine on Dec. 21, 2019, Kenneth Gordon was prevented from escaping due to the bolted rear door. Instead, Gordon jumped “several feet down” from a window and injured his left knee, left leg, head, neck and back, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in District Court.

Named as defendants in the suit are the Alpine’s then-owner, Adolfo Orozco, and his limited liability company, Las Vegas Dragon Hotel.

Orozco’s lawyers declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The blaze would prove to be the deadliest residential fire in Las Vegas city history. Six people died — Kerry Baclaan, 46; Henry Lawrence Pinc, 70; Cynthia Mikell, 61; Donald Keith Bennett, 63; Tracy Ann Cihal, 57; and Francis Lombardo Jr., 72.

Investigators later determined that the blaze originated from an unattended stovetop in one of the apartments. The man staying in the unit was using his stove and oven for heat.

While the exact cause of the fire remains unknown, it was ruled accidental.

Orozco and former Alpine manager Malinda Mier each face six criminal counts of involuntary manslaughter, along with multiple other felony charges, in connection with the fire.

The building’s back door was bolted shut, and the fire alarm was malfunctioning at the time of the fire, according to prior court filings. Gordon’s lawsuit claims the building did not have a working sprinkler system, echoing accusations from previous suits from the families of those who died.

Documents previously released to the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed that in order to escape, multiple people jumped or slipped from windows. A pregnant woman, DeJoy Wilson, broke her back.

At the time of the fire, the building constructed in 1972 had gone almost three years without a city fire inspection. In the fire’s aftermath, investigators cited more than 40 fire code violations, including the sealed rear exit and a faulty fire alarm system.

Gordon lost his job due to his injuries, his lawyer, Donald Kudler, wrote in the complaint.

“(Gordon) has suffered and will suffer disabilities, disfigurement, pain and suffering, future surgical procedures, and loss of enjoyment of life,” the suit states.

The suit seeks damages that include the cost of Gordon’s medical care, lost wages and legal fees.

Kudler did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Orozco filed his own lawsuit against the city of Las Vegas, the companies that monitored the building’s fire alarms and two former tenants — the building’s live-in manager, Jason Casteel, and Corey Evans, who lived in the unit where the fire broke out.

Orozco has sold nearly all of what was once a multimillion-dollar portfolio that he, his wife and their four companies owned at the time of the fire. Henderson resident John Burnette’s company, DLUX Investments, along with Las Vegas-based Apogee Capital Holdings and Ambleside Properties in Canada, paid $1.9 million in August to purchase the Alpine and its adjacent parking lot.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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