LAS VEGAS (AP) — An escalator fire sent smoke billowing into parts of Las Vegas' glitzy Caesars Palace, sending three hotel workers to the hospital with smoke inhalation and leading to an evacuation early Monday, officials said.
The blaze reported about 3:30 a.m. came from the top of the main escalators at the promenade level into the hotel's convention center and spread to curtains, Clark County Fire Department said. Smoke swept from a ballroom area into the casino, forcing the evacuation of the convention center and nearby areas.
Evacuations affected 140 hotel rooms on three floors of the Palace Tower for about two hours, Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Some shops nearby and a part of the casino floor also were briefly evacuated.
The three employees were treated and released from a Las Vegas hospital later in the morning, a University Medical Center spokeswoman said. No patrons or hotel guests were injured.
Robert Merritt, 54, who was on vacation with his family from the Chicago area, said his wife and daughter were staying in a Palace Tower room that was not evacuated.
He said they were startled by the alarms, truck sirens and fire department response but were not given any directions or had any communication from the hotel. They decided to stay in the room to wait for instructions.
"I just think they made a horrific mistake by not getting basic communications to people in Palace Tower," he said. "I was given the Disney PR line, which is: 'This is a happy place. There's nothing wrong.'"
Emergency crews don't have the manpower to alert every person in a partially evacuated building if they are not already affected, and doing so could cause unnecessary panic, Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan said. There also is no specific guidance or standard procedure on how property owners should communicate with unaffected guests, he said.
The hotel, which has not commented on its guest communication strategy, said the fire took about 25 minutes to contain and all hotel and casino operations have since returned to normal.
The fire department said it is investigating the cause of the fire, which caused damage estimated at $100,000.
Caesars Palace had no known building safety violations, and all safeguards were activated during the fire as designed, the county's building department said. The casino-hotel also has had regular building and fire inspections.
The state Mechanical Section of the Division on Industrial Relations, which inspects escalators, didn't immediately have comment.
It's the second Strip fire in recent days. There was a grease fire at a restaurant and bar at the Treasure Island hotel-casino Friday morning that also required an evacuation.