LATEST FEB. 2: Las Vegas Fire & Rescue released a report Thursday on the fire that killed three people last month that determined there were no smoke alarms in the apartment.
A fire that claimed the lives of three occupants of a west side Las Vegas apartment on Jan. 19 is wrapping up and at this point fire investigators have not been able to determine an exact cause. The fire appears to be accidental in nature.
Fire dispatchers received a call at 12:47 a.m. that an apartment at 833 W. Lake Mead Blvd. (at H Street) was on fire and possibly two females were trapped inside. When firefighters arrived on scene, heavy flames were shooting out the front windows of one apartment of a one story concrete block apartment building with four units. They also observed an adult male lying on the ground in front of the apartment that was badly burned and suffering from smoke inhalation.
The front door to the apartment was locked, so firefighters had to force open a security door along with the main front door before gaining access to the interior of the apartment which was full of flames and smoke. After entering, firefighters found an adult female lying on the floor in front of a couch, she was already deceased. As they pushed farther to the rear of the apartment, they found a little girl lying on the floor in the hallway from the front living room to the rear bedrooms.
The girl was lifeless and firefighters immediately took her outside and attempted to revive her. She was taken to the Trauma Unit at University Medical Center. The man lying in the front yard was also transported to UMC. Both were admitted suffering from critical burns and smoke inhalation.
Two teen girls were also in the apartment when the fire started. They escaped through a back window of the apartment. One of them was cut by the glass of the window after they broke it to escape. They were both taken to UMC to be treated for possible smoke inhalation and the lacerations.
The woman, Diana Rose Bankston (mother), 37, died on scene. The exact cause of her death is still under investigation by the Clark County Coroner’s Office pending final lab results. She appeared on scene to have been badly burned and suffered from smoke inhalation.
The little girl, Kaysha Ray (daughter), 8 died at University Medical Center later that day. Badly burned and appeared to have suffered from smoke inhalation, her cause of death was due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Andrew Ray (father), 39, died a few days later at University Medical Center. He appeared to have suffered from burns and smoke inhalation. The exact cause of his death is still under investigation by the Clark County Coroner’s office pending final lab results.
Two teen girls (daughters), ages 15 and 16, escaped through a back window with one suffering lacerations from broken glass from the window they broke out to escape.
Fire investigators believe this is what happened. Sometime after midnight, a fire started in the living room of the small two bedroom apartment. In one back bedroom, the small girl and her father were sleeping with the door to the bedroom open. The two teens were sleeping in the other bedroom with the door to their room closed. The mother usually slept on the sofa in the living room.
There were no smoke alarms found in the apartment during the investigation, so they were not available to alert the family that a fire had started.
Investigators believe the little girl woke and headed for the living room where her mother was. Before she could get there she was overcome with smoke and carbon monoxide in the hallway between the bedroom and living room where firefighters found her.
At that point, the father probably woke and found the room completely filled with thick black smoke and extreme heat. He probably blindly searched for the girl in the room. When conditions worsened, he broke out the window to the courtyard behind the apartment to escape maybe thinking he could go around to the front of the apartment and gain entry there.
At that same time, the two teens woke. When they tried to turn on the lights in the room, they found the electricity was off in the apartment. When they opened the door of the room to the hallway, they found it full of thick black smoke. They closed the door and broke out the window to the back courtyard. At that point, they said their father was already outside running to the gate to get to the front of the apartment. They escaped through the back window themselves.
When the father went to the front of the apartment, he found both windows broken out with intense flames coming out. Neighbors said he tried frantically to get through the front door which had a security bar door and regular front door which was both closed and locked. Intense flames came out the windows on either side of the door as he tried to gain entry resulting in him receiving severe burns. At that point, firefighters arrived on scene.
Firefighters had to cut through both doors to gain entry into the apartment. The little girl, father and two teens were immediately taken to the hospital.
Fire investigators believe the fire started in the living room. The exact cause of the fire is undetermined, the possibility of smoking-related cannot be ruled out. Both adults smoked in the apartment. No other source of ignition could be found.
As for the apartment not having smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are required by fire safety codes. The current management company of the apartments took over the complex in the summer of 2015. The name of the complex was changed from J & J Apartments to Westlake Apartments.
The father, Andrew Ray, was the maintenance man for the apartment complex.
Earlier this year a call was received from the complex by one of the tenants who said she was stuck in her apartment and could not get out because the door knob would not work. Las Vegas firefighters responded and opened the door. While there they noticed that a back window was screwed shut where the tenant could not open it in the event of an emergency. Firefighters notified the Fire Prevention Division of the condition.
A fire inspector from Las Vegas Fire & Rescue did a follow inspection of the complex on May 13, 2016. Three violations were found and a notice was issued to the management firm, for ensuring that any barred windows had interior release latches for escape in the event of a fire, to make sure exit doors are not chained/locked shut and to have smoke alarms in all apartments: one in each bedroom and one in the hallway between the bedrooms and living room. They were advised to have it completed within 14 days. The fire inspector said that Ray accompanied him during the inspections to know exactly what needed to be done.
Ray was the maintenance person along with two others tasked to bring the complex into compliance. The company bought and installed the smoke alarms, had new fire extinguishers put in the complex as required with a maintenance contract, all that was asked of them was completed within the two weeks with documentation of proof.
A subsequent inspection by the fire inspector found the complex to be in compliance. Random apartments were checked for the smoke alarms, all those inspected were found to be in compliance.
Coworkers and neighbors said recently the family had a grease fire in the kitchen of their apartment. They said Ray was working in the complex and could hear the smoke alarm going off. His wife had put the fire out by the time he got there. But the grease fire smoked up the apartment to the point that it had to be repainted. Ray would do the work. The fire department was not notified of the grease fire because it did not destroy any property.
It is believed that when Ray repainted the apartment, he took down the smoke alarms and most likely did not put them back up. Since he was the one that installed them, there is no reason to believe that he would not have had them himself (his apartment could have been randomly selected for the inspection) that he might have been too busy at work thinking he would get around to it.
After the fire, fire inspectors did an inspection of the complex and found them to be in compliance. Management is and has been cooperating fully with the fire department on fire safety issues since the inspection notice on May 13, 2016.
To sum up: The cause of the fire is undetermined, appears accidental, smoking related cannot be ruled out. At the time of the fire the apartment complex appears to have been in compliance of fire codes as required by the fire prevention division. The apartment where the fire occurred did not appear to have smoke alarms, it may have had them previously but were taken down due to repainting of the apartment and not put back up.
Three people died in this fire, the most of any fire in the history of the department at one single incident.
Renovation work on the apartment is expected to begin on the apartment in a few weeks. Private investigators will be going through the apartment again next week to wrap up the investigation. At this point, they indicated there is nothing showing to change the findings of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue investigators.
LATEST JAN. 25: A third person has died in last week's apartment fire.
The father, 39-year-old Andrew M. Ray, died of his injuries. 37-year-old Diana Rose Bankston and 8-year-old Kaysha Ray died last week.
UPDATE: The young girl has died of her injuries. A memorial was held Thursday night for both the girl and her mother.
Relatives identify the mother as Diana Bankston. They tell 13 Action News the child who died was just 8 years old.
"She passed away and you know that really hurts," said the child's aunt. "She's just a playful child, she's sweet."
Right now, the father of the family, identified as Andrew Ray, is in the intensive care unit.
We're told the two teenage girls who escaped are expected to be released soon from University Medical Center.
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -- A mother is dead and 4 other people were sent to a local hospital after a fire near Lake Mead and Martin Luther King boulevards.