13 Investigates


Fire erupts at downtown Las Vegas apartments; residents question fire extinguishers

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue investigating the cause
Posted at 10:28 PM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 02:53:07-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas Fire and Rescue is investigating the cause of a fire in a downtown Las Vegas apartment that authorities say looked more like a 'blow torch' when the winds picked up suddenly and temporarily trapped people on a third floor.

Michael Beltran said he was watching television with his young daughter and son Tuesday afternoon when the fire broke out.

"All of a sudden we hear this boom, it was an explosion," said Beltran.

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Beltran and his friend, Roy Soto, rushed over to the apartment that was engulfed in flames.

Beltran and Soto broke open the door and windows with a crowbar in a rush to see if anyone was inside.

"We got the door open, so Michael tried to go in there, he was standing up," said Soto.

"I said, no, come down, so he grabbed my shirt, I got on my knees, I went all the way to the bedroom, to the other side of the edge, and I didn't feel anyone," said Soto.

It turns out no one was inside the burning apartment, but Las Vegas Fire and Rescue says several people were unable to get away from the flames on the third floor.

"When the first responding units got here, the wind had picked up considerably for unknown reasons, it started to blow the flames out, it looked like a blow torch out of that one apartment," said Tim Szymanski with Las Vegas Fire and Rescue.

A second alarm was called which sent 65 firefighters and 35 pieces of equipment to the scene to help with the rescue.

The fire department reports it had the flames knocked down in 10 minutes.

"There was a lot of smoke, it was bad, it was really bad," said Darold Allen, a resident at Stewart Arms Apartments.

The Red Cross of Southern Nevada was called in to assist as many as 100 people after the fire due to the power being shut off.

However, as of Tuesday night, the power had been restored to all but a handful of apartments.

The Red Cross says they are assisting several people with a temporary place to stay.

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue said the damage is estimated at $50,000 and the cause is under investigation.

Several residents told 13 Investigates that some of the fire extinguishers did not appear to be functioning when they tried to use them on the flames Tuesday.

When 13 Investigates inquired with Las Vegas Fire and Rescue about the potential issue, authorities say they were checking on those claims.

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