St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on November 24, 1980 · Page 8
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 8

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Monday, November 24, 1980
Page 8
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8A Mon., Nov. 21, 190 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH Gawking Hordes At Hotel Scene ; 4 Ill;::' : - ' :i fN ; fm&;. mm::: ! i fi i I I T! 4Lz5 z Ik -v f. ' AP ; Survivors of the MGM Grand Hotel fire in Las Vegas, Nev., waiting I for their turn to re-enter the building to claim their possessions. Hotel B FROM PAGE ONE codes, but those codes were not retroactive. Benninger said that if the alarms ' had gone off, "many guests might have run into the halls and suffocated. It may have been a blessing in disguise." Benninger admitted that the fire disabled the alarm system. And at least one guest, Randy Rodman of Los Angeles, was angered by that failure. "Can you imagine designing a fire alarm system that can be destroyed by fire?" Rodman said. "It doesn't make ' any sense." Capt. Mike Patterson, chief of the fire investigation unit, appeared surprised by Benninger's theory that the failure of the alarm system may have saved lives. "Why would he say that?" Patterson asked. But Capt. Ralph Dinsman said Benninger's theory was plausible Reno Hotel Evacuated RENO, Nev. (AP) A grease fire broke out Sunday night in a kitchen at Harrah's Club, forcing the evacuation of the 25-story hotel-casino, fire officials said. No injuries were reported. It was not clear how much damage was done, but a hotel spokesman, Candy Pearce, said part of the casino had been reopened for business by late Sunday and guests were allowed back in the building. The fire at Harrah's was reported ati 10:20 p.m. Pacific time and the hotel was evacuated within 15 minutes, Ms. Pearce said. The fire began in a kitchen at the Steakhouse Restaurant in the hotel's basement, officials said. The fire generally was contained in a flue that led from the kitchen, according to Battalion Chief Jim Neil of the Reno Fire Department. The hotel has 324 rooms and had 400 to 500 guests at the time of the blaze, Ms. Pearce said. Officials said there were hundreds of people in the casino, but they were not sure of the exact figure. Roommates Report Sex Assaults An 18-year-old woman said she was tied to a bed and raped and her 19-year-old roommate reported being sexually ' assaulted by a masked man in their north St. Louis home, authorities said. The women told police that the assailant, wearing a green ski mask, ' entered the house about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, held a knife to the throat of the 18-year-old and forced her into her .roommate's second-floor bedroom. The ' man made her tie the roommate to a ' bed with some strips of cloth, the ;women said. ' ; He then took the younger woman to Another room, tied her to a bed, and : 0 0 : 0 Q : 0 : 0 0 : 0 0 0 Q 0 Q : Jamestown Mall iFlonssanl) 355-2100 Cheatarflald Mall 532-5955 Dr Neil Carr O D Vorkshlra Shopping Canter Watson at Laclede Station Rd ) 966-4615 Dr Paul ' Patterson. O D pvf examinations by Doctors of Optometry. Limited time offer. Offer not valid for state or federally funded program's or prior orders. In case of other discounts, lowest price will apply. because the fire spread so rapidly. "This all happened in five or 10 minutes. It might have driven people out into the halls." Only six of the victims burned to death. A few jumped to their deaths, bu most died of smoke inhalation on the hotel's upper floors. Five of the bumed victims were found huddled on the floor in a cocktail lounge within 20 yards of the front entrance. The sixth lay in a corridor that was once studded with poster-size photos of MGM movie stars. Other victims suffocated on smoke or died of heart attacks on the upper floors, many in stairwells they thought would take them to safety. Meanwhile, fire officials said they would close their investigation of the blaze today. "We may have some officials from Washington and elsewhere going in there to observe Firefighters put out the blaze within 10 minutes, Neil said. "The smoke was pretty well funneled outside," he said. "There was some smoke in the building but nothing that represented any danger." However, John Weiss of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who was in his room on the 18th floor, said the smoke d"id represent a danger. He said there was no warning that a fire had broken out. "A buddy of mine down the hall heard people screaming," Weiss said. "He banged on my door for about five minutes until I woke up. There was no fire but the smoke was in the hall." Evacuated guests huddled in robes and slippers in the cold outside the hotel. Eithel Shelton of St. Maries, Idaho, who had been in the ground-floor cabaret, said the evacuation was carried out calmly. "It makes you kind of worried after thinking about the MGM in Las Vegas," she said. "When this happened, we thought, 'Oh boy, here we go again.'" used socks to blindfold and gag both women, they said. The man raped the younger woman and forced her to commit sodomy, the women said. The assailant then returned to the 19-year-old's bedroom and forced her to commit sodomy, according to police reports. He then took $20 from a dresser and fled. Detective Marilyn Mullen, of the Sex Crime Section, said the 19-year-old woman managed to free herself a short time later and called police. The women refused medical attention, Ms. Mullen said. Incredible Offer: Free Frames. When you purchase prescription lenses from DOC the frames are free. Choose from a wide selection of men's, women's and children's traditional and fashion style frames. Bausch & Lomb and other leading Soft Lenses, $89. Care kit and professional fees not included. ContacMesss Lenses, $69. Includes care kit. Our professional fees include 6 months of followup visits and our 30 day wearing trial you get a full refund on the cost of the lenses if you're not completely satisfied. All major credit cards honored. 1018 South Brentwood Blvd. Richmond Heights Dr Leo Reiger O D ust South ol Clayton Rd I 725-2050 Twin Plnea Center 12084 Manchester Road Des Peres 'i Mile East of 1-270) 21-8262 Dr Paul Patterson O D Downtown Olive at 7th Dr Karen Plishka. O O 421-6600 When his or her turn comes, employees. The process will take what happened," Fire Capt. Dinsman said. "But as far as we're concerned, the investigation is concluded." Armed guards ringed the hotel today as survivors went back to reclaim their possessions. Some complained that their rooms had been looted. "There's some stealing going on up there," said policeman Dan Harness. "There's one lady who lost a $30,000 ring. We won't know how much was lost until later, when people go home, look in their suitcases and really see what's missing." It was not known how much of the hotel's money was lost in the fire. Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Harry Reid said that he believed the hotel would have had at least $1 million on hand to pay off gamblers. Chief Parrish said that the blaze began in electrical circuits above a delicatessen on the hotel's main floor Take advantage of our special Shape Up Season offer and join Vic Tanny now! You'll get two years of regular membership for the price of one year a great way to enjoy all the'facilities that 2 years ? or the price off the first year alomie! Join now and get 2 years of regular membership for the price of the first year alone! Men...Women Call Now! BELLEVILLE, ILL. 700 Carlyle Plaza (618)277-5060 CREVECOEUR 12959 Olive St. Rd 434-2660 each guest is escorted by hotel several days to complete. and smoldered for hours before exploding out of the ceiling in a fireball that sent dense smoke up through the elevator shafts. Guests dangled out of windows by bedsheets, and, despite warnings from firefighters with bullhorns, some jumped in attempts to save themselves. .At least three people were killed that way. Most of the guests were out of reach of fire department ladders, which could stretch only to the ninth floor. About 1,000 people fled to the roof of the building, where they were ferried to safety by helicopters. Authorities guessed that there were about 8,000 people in the building at the time of the fire, including 5,000 guests and 1,500 gamblers who had come in off the street. 1 ST. LOUIS AREA LOCATIONS: DELLWOOD FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS. ILL. 9846 W. Florissant 869-6000 CRESTWOOD 9744 Watson Rd. 822-8100 Mark Twain Shopping Center 946-7721 LAS VEGAS (AP) Children hung out of car windows, film was in heavy demand and traffic snarled for a mile along the Las Vegas Strip as thousands of people swarmed to view the fire-blackened MGM Grand hotel-casino. Once considered one of the world's most luxurious resorts, the gutted hulk has become a morbid curiosity in a city accustomed to spectacles. Gawking motorists stopped their cars in traffic Sunday and climbed out into the streets to take snapshots of the 26-story building. Small children , hanging out of car windows gazed skyward as their parents pointed out balconies draped with bedding tied by escaping guests. Twice within 36 hours of the Friday morning fire, police cordoned off Flamingo Street to keep pedestrians out of range of falling glass. Hotel gift shops reported heavy demand on film as hundreds of tourists lined the streets to take pictures of the nation's second-worst hotel fire. Las Vegas Chief Says Firemen Didn't Know Hotel's Layout LAS VEGAS, Nev. (UPI) Scores of firefighters arriving at the blazing MGM Grand hotel-casino did not know where to connect fire hoses or how to find escape routes inside the high-rise building, an angry battalion chief says. They had never been shown the hotel fire prevention system or the layout of escape routes, Las Vegas Battalion Chief Leroy Leavitt said. The MGM and more than two dozen other "Strip" resorts are outside the Las Vegas city limits beyond the jurisdiction of city firefighters. Strip hotels are under County Fire Department control. City and county firefighters rushed to the flaming hotel with all available equipment, but scores of them were on unfamiliar firefighting territory at the peak of a disaster with no time to learn. Vic Tanny offers men and women seven days a week. There's never been a better time to join Vic Tanny! So call now and start enjoying our Shape Up Season activities and savings. rain sh uw ST. ANN 10429 St. Charles 423-3004 10806 Lincoln Trail (618)398-5914 ST. CHARLES I-70 at 5th St. FLORISSANT 225 Dunn Rd. 838-2230 A young girl accompanied by her boyfriend approached a reporter and said, "It's disgusting, I know, but where is the area where the jumpers landed?" Dozens of former hotel employees joined the milling crowd, some returning to the scene for the first time since fleeing for their lives in Friday's Are. A tourist, Bill Creighton of Calgary, Alberta, stood on the sidewalk and voiced incredulity at the magnitude of the damage. , "How can a building that new suffer that much destruction?" the 44-year-old reproduction company owner wondered aloud. "The bedsheets . . . they're ' so morbid," he said, after a long look upward. Employees at several Las, Vegas Strip hotels reported guests requesting rooms with tower views of the devastated MGM Grand. " , " -I "That's sick," said" Robin Harrington, a 29-year-old telephone operator at the Barbary Coast Hotel. "I would have needed'an executive order to take my men on a tour of the MGM Grand and find out where their emergency exits and fire hose connections were," Leavitt said. T. always knew a disaster like this would happen in Las Vegas," said Leavitt, who favors setting up just one fire department to serve the entire Las Vegas Valley. Efforts to create a metropolitan fire department or single fire district have failed in the Nevada Legislature or been struck down in Nevada courts. "I don't like to see people fighting fires under adverse conditions," Leavitt said. "If we had been operating under one jurisdiction, we could have been there 15 minutes earlier. It got so bad, they didn't even have time to call in the other fire departments. We just heard it on the (fire frequency) radio, and took off." At the Illinois Clubs ' 25 off , all memberships ; will be offered The "2 for 1" offer is not applicable RockRd. MEHLVILLE 7425 S.Lindbergh 892-6088

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