Continued power outage to leave 500 Rio rooms dark through New Year’s Eve weekend

More than half of the rooms in the Rio’s largest tower will remain dark through New Year’s Eve weekend after a major power outage that began early Thursday morning.

But despite the droves of people expected to visit the Las Vegas Strip for the holiday weekend, officials with Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns the Rio, said Friday that “all” guests already booked for a stay in the affected Rio rooms will be housed in other Caesars properties for the New Year celebration.

A statement from the Rio added that officials “don’t anticipate any problems” with the logistics of the ordeal.

The major outage Thursday was caused by a domino effect that began Wednesday with an overflowing sink, which was left on in a service area of the hotel. Water from that sink caused an electrical short that started a small fire in a Rio service elevator Wednesday afternoon.

Smoke from the fire Wednesday caused a brief, 400-room evacuation of the resort, but the resort’s sprinkler system quickly extinguished the flames. It was water from those sprinklers that trickled down and eventually made its way into a secondary generator Thursday, which caused another electrical short that shut down power for all 900 guest rooms in the resort’s 50-story Masquerade Tower.

On Friday, Rio officials worked to restore power for the tower’s 4th through 21st floors, which total about 400 rooms. The bottom floors of the resort, including the casino floor and restaurants, as well as the Rio’s Ipanema Tower, were not affected by the outage.

As of 6:30 p.m., power on the 4th through 21st floors had been restored, but county officials were still working to complete safety inspections and give an all-clear for resort staff to enter the now-powered rooms, clean them, then allow new guests to enter. The process was expected to take a few hours.

The resort’s remaining 17 floors — which total about 500 rooms, including penthouses — were to remain dark for the next few days.

Guests meant to stay in those rooms are advised to head to the Rio’s registration desk, where they will get information about where they will be staying instead. Caesars will provide transportation to the Caesars resorts where those guests end up staying, Caesars Entertainment spokesman Rich Broome said.

“It’s unfortunate anytime that our guests have to be inconvenienced in any way,” Broome said. “It doesn’t really matter that it’s New Year’s Eve.”

Caesars has experience with major power outages. Just last month, the Paris Las Vegas was shut down for several hours after construction workers drilled through the resort’s main power line. In that incident, the entire resort went dark, including emergency lights.

At the time, Broome did not comment on the financial impact of the outage at the Paris, and on Friday, he did not comment on the financial impact of the outage at the Rio.

Broome said officials have not yet determined who left on the Rio service sink that originally overflowed and caused the outage or whether that employee will face consequences.

“Our focus has been getting the power back on and dealing with our guests,” Broome said.

The outage also affected the logistics of the Las Vegas Strip’s famous fireworks show. The control room for the entire show was to be housed at the VooDoo Lounge atop the Masquerade Tower. Since the outage, the control room was moved to a different part of the resort instead.

“There’s no pyrotechnics at the Rio, so it wasn’t a tremendous change for the fireworks show itself,” said Scott Cooper, director of business development, Fireworks by Grucci, which puts on the show.

Review-Journal staff writer Michael Scott Davidson contributed to this story.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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