Cause of fire at Cosmopolitan unknown, damage is $2 million

By Kimberly Pierceall, Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 24, 2015 at 4:51 p.m.


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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Fire officials said Monday they could not determine the cause of a fire that ripped through a 14th floor pool deck at The Cosmopolitan hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip and caused $2 million in damage.

The Clark County Fire Department said it had completed its investigation into the July 25 fire without pinpointing the cause. Investigators did rule out an electrical problem.

Several cigarette butts were found on the pool deck, but the agency said it couldn't prove that started the fire.

It's not unusual for causes to elude fire investigators. The question remained unanswered in 24 percent of the 448 fire investigations in 2014.

Fake palm trees and high winds aided the fire at The Cosmopolitan that sent black smoke billowing above the Las Vegas Strip. It started in a landscaped area by pool of the high-rise.

"We know exactly which tree it started at. But how, we don't know," Fire Chief Greg Cassell said.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and there were no serious injuries.

Cassell said the investigation could be reopened if any significant clues come to light. Investigators looked at video footage, spoke to witnesses and observed burn patterns.

Samples of the fake palm trees that caught fire will be tested and could determine if the county needs to regulate their use outdoors. The county already regulates the use of fake palm trees inside casino-resorts.

The tests will be challenging because the trees aren't made of a single material, said Ron Lynn, director of the county's department of building and fire prevention.

"We really need to have scientific and engineering substantiation," he said.

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Kimberly Pierceall

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