A massive fire destroyed an 84,000-square-foot business complex near the Strip on Monday and left a haze of smoke hovering over the central Las Vegas Valley.
Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said no sprinklers had been installed in the two-story structure, and it was unclear if the building’s smoke detectors were working because the Fire Department was never contacted by an alarm monitoring company. The fire was reported by someone staying at a nearby La Quinta Inn & Suites.
When firefighters arrived at the scene around 3 a.m., they found the intersection in front of the complex flooded with smoke, Cassell said. Visibility was reduced to a few hundred feet, and crews initially were not sure which building was on fire.
“That immediately tells us right there that we’ve got a fire that’s been burning for a very long time at a slow pace,” Cassell said.
As of 2:45 p.m., nearly 12 hours after it was reported that flames were ripping through The Park at 3900, near Paradise Road and East Twain Avenue, the Fire Department was still extinguishing the fire.
The smoke subsided in waves, the damage of the fire emerging for brief periods before flames again flared up.
Cassell said the fire may have started in the building’s common attic, which had no smoke detectors, and could have been burning for hours before anyone noticed.
A small group of firefighters entered the building but could not find the source of the smoke before flames “blew out of the side of the roof,” the chief said. The firefighters pulled out of the building shortly before the ceiling collapsed in the area they were searching.
After the smoke had dissipated, it revealed a partially collapsed, burnt-out shell left behind by the fire.
Southbound Paradise, which was closed for hours between East Flamingo Road and Twain, had reopened as of 2 p.m.
Cassell said he anticipated that crews would stay at the scene overnight in case the building caught fire again. At 3 p.m., he said the Clark County Public Works Department would begin knocking down portions of the building later in the day so firefighters could extinguish any remaining hot spots and investigators could reach areas they could not safely access otherwise.
“More than likely it’s going to be destroyed down to the ground,” he said.
One firefighter suffered a back strain and two others were hospitalized for heat exposure, but all of their injuries were minor, Cassell said.
As crews worked Monday morning, Mark Martinez, operations director for Concentra Urgent Care, paced along Corporate Drive waiting for the OK to enter his business, which is located in a building adjacent to the fire. By 8 a.m., he had been there for several hours and had heard the roof of The Park at 3900 collapse, he said.
As for his business, Martinez said he wasn’t too worried about the fire spreading.
“Smoke, on the other hand —,” he said, trailing off and noting that his air conditioner was running. “We’ll see. I’m just hoping for the best since we’re tucked away in the corner of the complex.”
Also at the scene was a man, scheduled to take a drug test, wondering whether Concentra was planning to open later Monday.
“This could be good for me,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal before wandering off.
RREF II GCM Acquisitions LLC has owned the property since 2013, according to the Clark County assessor’s office, and Cushman & Wakefield is the leasing company for the office building.
It houses 24 units, including the Nevada Broadcasters Association and the RCG Economics consulting firm. A request for comment from Cushman & Wakefield was not returned.
RCG Economics founder John Restrepo said he heard about the blaze between about 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. from another tenant, who called to tell Restrepo he might want to turn on the television because the building was on fire.
“What a thing to wake up to on Monday morning,” Restrepo said.
RCG was based on the second floor, said Restrepo, who assumes his office furniture, computers, filing cabinets and other physical property were all destroyed.
Fortunately, he said, his team always planned for an emergency and saved databases, company documents, client folders and other information at off-site backup servers and through cloud computing.
RCG sent out an email Monday saying “there will be little or no client service interruptions.”
Restrepo said his firm would work from home until he finds new office space.
“You take things for granted,” Mitch Fox, president and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association, said. “We don’t think there’s anything that important in an office, but there’s personal mementos, awards, signed photos, things that can’t be replaced.”
He said the loss of the association’s office was saddening, but his staff is already picking up the pieces and moving forward.
“Think if this had happened 15, 20 years ago, or even just 10 years ago,” he said. “Every business has paper files, but now we have DropBox, the cloud, the internet. We didn’t lose everything.”
Fox said the silver lining of the fire, if there is one, is the support he’s seen from the community. He said he’s received numerous calls from people, including broadcast station managers, county commissioners and Mayor Carolyn Goodman, offering up office space and resources while the association gets back on its feet.
Cassell recommended that all business owners back up their important documents to a cloud server in case of a fire emergency.
Businesses in adjacent buildings were to remain closed for the day, Cassell said, but should be able to open Tuesday morning.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
If on your way to work this morning you’re wondering why the Stip is hazy, there’s a massive fire nearby at a commercial complex at 3900 Paradise. Looks to be a stubborn fire. It’s been burning since around 3am. @reviewjournal pic.twitter.com/kaYS4iJiLW
— Rio Lacanlale (@riolacanlale) June 17, 2019
— Bizuayehu Tesfaye (@bizutesfaye) June 17, 2019
— Bizuayehu Tesfaye (@bizutesfaye) June 17, 2019