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Squatters likely caused fire at old Vegas zoo

Posted at 12:13 PM, May 01, 2016

UPDATE: Squatters are likely to blame for the massive fire that took down the vacant building that was once the Las Vegas Zoo. Neighbors expressed their concern about the recent increase in homeless people and crime in the area.

It was just after 8 p.m. Saturday night when people in the area of Rancho and Vegas ran outside to snap pictures and videos of the massive fire. The building, that was once the Las Vegas Zoo, shot up in flames, leaving just a big pile of rubble.
 
"Pretty high," said witness Michael Lock. "Pretty intense. Pretty bright."
 
Witnesses told Las Vegas firefighters squatters are to blame for the 50 foot flames.
 
"I'm not surprised," said Julie Amate. "It was just a matter of time before the zoo got burned down."
 
People living in the area tell 13 Action News, ever since the zoo closed back in 2013, the issues of squatters and crime have increased.
 
"It's just really gotten bad around here lately," said Amate. "More and more people going by in shopping cars. More break-ins around this area, cars being broken into, cars got stolen."
 
One man tells us the building was boarded up three times but each time, squatters found a way to kick the wood in and move inside.
 
"They will take advantage of whatever they can find to get away with, just so they can sleep," said Amate.

ORIGINAL STORY

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) --  The main building of the old Las Vegas Zoo was destroyed in a fire Saturday night.
 
Las Vegas fire dispatchers received numerous 911 calls at 8:13 p.m. Saturday that the building at the site of the old Las Vegas Zoo, 1775 N. Rancho Drive, near Melody Lane, was on fire.
 
When firefighters arrived on scene, flames were shooting 50 feet into the air from the roof of vacant building. There were no nearby buildings that the fire could spread to, so firefighters concentrated on attacking the main fire, which involved the entire interior of the building.
 
Within fifteen minutes firefighters from Las Vegas and North Las Vegas had the bulk of the fire under control, they declared a complete knockdown within 45 minutes.
 
The fire completely destroyed the building. Damage is estimated at $50,000.
 
The cause of the fire is under investigation. People who live near the building told fire investigators that squatters were seen going in and out of the building on a regular basis. There was even one report that someone was seen leaving the building just prior to the fire.
 
The building was the main building of the old Las Vegas Zoo which closed on Sept. 24, 2013. It appears the building has been vacant since. The building was not visible from Rancho Drive while it was part of the zoo because it was hidden by a large wall the surrounded the zoo.
 
There were no reported injuries during the incident. The fire closed southbound Rancho Drive for approximately two hours.
 
It was being arranged to have the building torn down because of a danger of collapse.