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Las Vegas’ deadliest residential fire brings steady progress on safety inspections

Updated March 17, 2022 - 9:55 am

The city of Las Vegas has made gradual progress toward its goal of inspecting three dozen residential properties in response to an unprecedented deadly apartment fire more than two years ago, a city official said Wednesday.

As of March 10, Las Vegas had checked on 636 units across 13 properties that were included in the city’s residential inspection program launched nearly a year ago, Community Development Director Seth Floyd told city lawmakers.

Two properties passed an initial inspection and only one failed re-inspection, meaning that the other 10 were verified on a second checkup to have come into compliance with city codes, according to Floyd.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of success,” he said. “I’m excited about this program. I think we really are making a difference for the tenants who are living in these properties.”

In April, the City Council approved annual checkups at 36 residential motel and hotel residences, located primarily downtown. The program targeted properties with similar characteristics to the Alpine Motel Apartments, particularly in age and in housing style.

That complex was the site of a fire that killed six people in December 2019, the deadliest residential fire in city history. Serious code issues were brought to light in the aftermath.

The city is currently surveying about one property a week and expects to complete initial inspections at all 36 sites by August, according to Floyd.

Despite being passed nearly a year ago, the program did not officially begin until six months later. While city officials have suggested there was an urgent need to ensure that safeguards were in place, they have also said resources were limited.

The city previously said it had dedicated just one of its 14 code enforcement officers to the program. And officers are responsible for some 25,000 inspections citywide each year.

“I’m glad we’re into it finally,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Wednesday. “The safety of our people is the vote always of council. Safety first.”

The city has discovered 56 life safety violations, which were primarily related to unpermitted construction, and 359 miscellaneous violations, according to Floyd.

Eleven of 13 properties had missing or broken smoke detectors, which most corrected immediately, he said.

“And that would have helped Alpine for sure,” Goodman said, a reference to Alpine survivors who had alleged their smoke detectors did not work.

With its residential inspection program, the city has also recently pushed for inspections of the city’s roughly 1,200 fourplexes. The City Council in April required that they get a business license, which triggers an inspection, and the city has sent letters to about 700 thus far to bring them into compliance, Floyd said.

He added that 115 applications have been processed and 54 were pending.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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