LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Leaders for the City of Las Vegas have put a notorious property owner on notice to secure and knock down her problem properties before someone is killed in her vacant buildings.
The scenes are all too common.
Five people were rescued from the building and authorities say there was evidence of squatters.
The company that owns the historic 90-year-old building, also owns several more buildings on the same block which include the vacant El Cid Hotel.
13 Action News has been investigating a series of fires which have prompted large police and fire department responses.
"This is unacceptable, we cannot allow this to go on, we are going to lose peoples lives," said Downtown Area Command Sgt. Beth Schmidt with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.
On Wednesday, the Las Vegas City Council heard from police, fire and code enforcement officials as well as an attorney representing the building's owner, Good Earth Enterprises, about an emergency declaration to deal with some of the problem properties that have become havens for drugs, prostitution and other crimes, according to police.
On Wednesday, city leaders received a dire assessment from police.
“We have had six officers that went in on a fire and all had to file a work place safety violation because of smoke inhalation," said Sgt. Schmidt.
"Because of the asbestos, we will not go in per our department, we are not equipped, we do not have the equipment to go in," explained Schmidt.
Las Vegas Fire and Rescue echoed the call to demolish the building as soon as possible.
“I can’t see a bigger hazard in the downtown area than this building," said Deputy Fire Marshal Rick Rozier.
"We have had multiple fire responses and we have neighbors and I cannot see a better reason to bring this building down before someone gets hurt," added Rozier.
13 Action News has also learned the extent of the problems and the cost of the police and fire responses.
According to authorities, taxpayers have spend $46,000 in fire department responses.
Las Vegas police have responded to 94 calls for service since Jan. 2018 to present.
The Las Vegas City Council did not hold back when questioning the owner's attorney about delays on securing the properties in question.
"It is not satisfactory when the material arrives," said Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman.
"This needs to be prevent today, by the end of the day," added Mayor Goodman.
"The city can have fencing up there, so either you are going to have fencing up, or the city is going to have it up there and you are going to wind up paying for it, so I highly suggest not when but today," said Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore.
"We are bringing down all of the buildings that Mrs. Lau has interest in on the street," said Timothy Elson, attorney with Good Earth Enterprises.
"I believe a total of five or six buildings are going to be demolished as well as have the asbestos removed by [the contractor,]" added Elson.
This week, on Feb. 20, the Las Vegas City Council approved the demolition El Cid Hotel with officials deeming it an "imminent hazard."