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Residents at apartment complex that caught fire blame unsupervised children and fire prone buildings

Posted at 11:33 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 02:34:18-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV)  — People living in an apartment complex near Tropicana and Nellis said a Monday afternoon fire could have been much worse. Residents 13 Action News spoke with said they have complained about unsupervised children playing with lighters near the buildings which are particularly fire prone.

Nearly 50 people were forced from their homes after the Clark County Fire Chief said a child started the fire.

"They're setting pieces of paper on fire,” said Michael Liseo. “They will find somebody's lighter or something and go get a piece of paper and light it on fire or sticks and then play with it. And it’s dangerous!"

"Dumpster fires, said Mary Stanfill who also lives in the complex. “Fires behind these other buildings and in the sand."

But what they said has been dismissed one too many times as simple child's play had serious adult consequences Monday afternoon. Forty-six people including 15 children were forced out of their homes and significant and likely costly damage was done to several units.

" I mean look at the devastation it just caused to eight families,” said Liseo.

Clark County Fire Department Chief Greg Cassell said the Sonoma Hills apartments were built in the late eighties under different fire codes which allowed for highly flammable materials and wood paneling in the construction.

"Unfortunately, the way fire codes are right now, the damaged building can be rebuilt to the code in the year which it was built, “said Cassell. “So, it's very likely going to be rebuilt with the same level of exterior combustibles and so forth."

13 Investigates has looked into this issue before after repeated fires at the Solaire Apartments on Karen Avenue near Maryland Parkway.

This prompted Clark County Commissioners to discuss looking closer at the so called "rebuilding loophole" in the fire code last year.

And then in April of this year the family of a Las Vegas woman who was killed in a fire at the Solaire Apartments in August of 2018 sued saying owners knew the building was prone to fires and failed to adequately maintain the complex.

“That's stupid,” said Stanfill. “All the buildings are built that way and then none of them are safe.”

While heat, winds whipping, and highly flammable materials made this a hard fight for fire crews none were injured but one person did suffer a minor burn.