On the morning of November 21, 1980, 85 people died and more than 700 were
injured as a result of a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel. This was the second
largest life-loss hotel fire in United States history.
It was determined during the investigation that the fire originated in the wall
soffit of the side stand in the Deli, one of five restaurants located on the
The investigators concluded that several factors contributed to the cause of the
fire but the primary source of ignition was an electrical ground fault.
At the time the fire was discovered, the restaurant was not yet opened for
At approximately 7:05 AM, a supervisor of a marble and tile setting crew entered
the Deli to examine the premises for broken tiles.
The employee first observed a reflection of a flickering light and, upon closer
inspection, discovered a wall of flame traveling from the countertop to the
ceiling. He immediately notified MGM security about the fire and proceeded to
secure a hose line and fire extinguisher.
The employee repeatedly attempted to contain the fire but - by that time - the
heat, smoke and pressure buildup was so intense that he was knocked down each
time he tried to enter the Deli. Realizing the gravity of the situation, he
decided to leave the area.
At the same time, other employees noticed the spreading fire and tried
unsuccessfully to extinguish the growing flames.
Within six minutes of the time of discovery, the total casino area was involved
in fire, at a burning rate of approximately 15 to 19 feet per second!
The Clark County Fire Department received the call reporting the fire at 7:17
A.M. Captain Rex Smith, Engineer Chad Marshal, and Firefighters Bert Sweeney,
Toby Lamuraglia, and Ted Singer arrived in Engine 11 at 7:19 A.M. They
positioned the 1,500 GPM fire engine at the North entrance of the casino and
implemented the High Rise Preplan.
Upon entering the casino, the crew observed black smoke emitting from the Deli.
They were only forty feet into the hotel when a huge fireball burst out of the
Deli and rolled into the casino, hustling the crew out of the building. The
company made it back to the engine as the flames sprang out the front of the