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Survivor testifies about escape from deadly Alpine Motel fire

As an image of a charred room inside the Alpine Motel Apartments appeared on a screen over her shoulder on Monday, Tiacherelle Dotson broke into tears.

She recognized a table, chair and coffee pot as all that was left of the place she, her two daughters and boyfriend called home before a December fire at the downtown building left six people dead.

“There was no warning,” she said. “There was nothing. There was no time to do anything. No fire alarms, no smoke detectors. I barely had time to get out.”

She escaped Unit 5 with only a blanket for her youngest child, age 10, and her purse before she rushed back to help other residents.

Dotson, 43, was among the first surviving victims to testify during what is expected to be a weekslong preliminary hearing for the building’s owner, Adolfo Orozco, and his co-defendant, Malinda Mier.

Orozco and Mier were charged on July 30 with manslaughter — one count for each of the six victims — and 15 counts of performance of an act or neglect of duty in disregard of safety resulting in substantial bodily harm or death.

Orozco also faces four counts of using a deadly weapon to prevent or dissuade a witness or victim from reporting a crime. Both defendants are out of custody after posting bail.

Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman is expected to decide whether Orozco and Mier should stand trial on the charges.

The Dec. 21 fire at the Alpine Motel at 213 N. Ninth St., a 41-unit building constructed in 1972 in downtown Las Vegas, left six people dead, 13 more injured and dozens displaced the week before Christmas.

Dotson, who had lived at the building for 16 months, described being awakened from a deep sleep by people screaming and pounding on doors.

“Boom boom boom boom boom, fire,” she said. “It was just horrible.”

Like others told investigators after the fire, Dotson testified that she had used the oven to heat her apartment.

Another resident, 76-year-old Paul Wise, said he often had complained about problems with his apartment. He sent a letter, which had been notarized, to Orozco in April 2019. It detailed leaky pipes, bed bugs and black mold.

“There was a lot of problems at that place,” Wise said. “And he would never come to my place.”

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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