Updated June 21, 2023 - 8:21 am
It was a massive fire with a plume of smoke that could be seen across the Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday.
The blaze, at 8030 W. Maule Ave. near South Buffalo Drive and the 215 Beltway in the southwest valley, engulfed and destroyed an apartment complex under construction, with the flames visible for miles.
Fire crews began responding after calls started coming in at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kelly Blackmon of the Clark County Fire Department said in a statement.
As of Wednesday morning, the fire was still smoldering, with smoke visible for miles. Several emergency vehicles patrolled the area around the collapsed structure.
Clark County Assistant Fire Chief Brian O’Neal said the department initially responded to the fire with 75 fire personnel and 11 fire engines.
“It was a blazing inferno,” said Shannon Leyden, 28, who also lives across the highway from the fire site in an apartment complex on Rafael Rivera Way. “I’ve never seen huge flames like that.”
Julia Maranville, 25, who lives in the same complex southwest of South Buffalo Drive and West Sunset Road, said that when firefighters started spraying their hoses on the blaze, fiery embers and debris began raining down, igniting fires in the grass and dumpsters.
“I could see the walls of the building falling to the ground as the fire was burning,” Maranville said.
Though she lives on the other side of the 215, she said she could feel the heat from the flames.
“It was so hot,” Maranville said. “It was extremely hot.”
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Building a total loss
O’Neal said the building was still unstable as of around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and was considered a total loss. Fire investigators were investigating the cause of the blaze as of Tuesday night.
None of the surrounding buildings was exposed to the point of evacuation, and surrounding buildings were protected from lasting damage from the fire, he said.
“I believe that the initial defensive strategy was able to protect those buildings,” O’Neal said.
But Erin McClendon said her apartment building — across the street from the burning site — sent a message calling for tenants to leave.
“We watched that building get burned completely down,” McClendon said as she and her two sons stood down the street from the fire.
McClendon was driving home with her two sons, 15-year-old Laurence Andrews and 9-year-old Landen Edwards, when she noticed the plume of smoke.
As the fire progressed, McClendon and her boys left their apartment and walked down the road to the intersection of Cimarron Road and Maule Avenue to watch the flames.
“First off, I was feeling really scared. Because it’s just, look at that! The fire was so big,” Edwards said, gesturing to the burning building.
After watching the Fire Department’s response, McClendon commended their work in putting out the blaze.
“I really feel safe with them in our community. They did such a good job,” she said.