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Airport fuel tanks targeted by Las Vegas shooter are safe, report says

Updated December 19, 2017 - 7:25 pm

McCarran International Airport’s fuel supply system, which was struck by gunfire during the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting, is safe and secure, a leading aviation consultant has concluded.

But following a six-week review, Florida-based Armbrust Aviation Group has recommended a barrier be constructed in front of a road by the tanks that were targeted by the Mandalay Bay shooter. The barrier would better protect the tanks from vehicles.

The report, made available Tuesday by airport officials to County Manager Yolanda King, also recommends improving the 24-hour video surveillance system for the tanks near the hotel and other tanks on the east side of the airport.

Additionally, a catering company located near the east tanks is a security risk and should be moved, the report said.

“I support the findings,” Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said late Tuesday. “I’m sure that the airport will analyze the findings and put out a design bid to make the recommended improvements.”

Armbrust Aviation was hired last month to review the safety of the fuel system after one of the jet fuel tanks near Mandalay Bay was struck by rifle fire during the mass shooting that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured at a country music festival.

The Review-Journal first reported that the Mandalay Bay shooter had fired at two tanks from his 32nd-floor suite, penetrating one of the tanks but causing no fire or explosion.

At the time, experts said it would be virtually impossible for rifle fire to ignite jet fuel, and the Armbrust report agreed.

The findings cited news stories that the shooter had used incendiary rounds.

“Even if that report proves true, based on the analysis there is no likelihood it would have ignited the jet fuel leading to an explosion of the tank,” the Armbrust report concluded.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in October told the Review-Journal the fuel tanks needed “another layer of protection.”

Two bullet holes and black powder burns were found at the top of one of the tanks, which airport officials said was partially filled at the time of the shooting. Only one bullet made its way inside the tank, officials said.

Lombardo said the gunman may have tried to create an explosion or diversion by firing at the tanks before he fired on the Las Vegas Village concert grounds.

Airport officials and John Armbrust, the owner of the company that prepared the report, declined further comment late Tuesday.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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