LAS VEGAS — Flames and thick plumes of black smoke from a quick-spreading fire engulfed the 14th-floor pool deck of a sprawling Las Vegas Strip resort Saturday.
Videos posted on social media showed the inferno consuming the poolside tent-like cabanas, imitation palm trees, and just about everything else on the open-air deck of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel.
An unknown number of guests and employees at the 3,000-room resort were evacuated. There were no serious injuries, but two people suffered smoke inhalation, according to Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell.
Amy Rossetti, vice president of public relations for the Cosmopolitan, said the fire started at about 12:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. ET) and was contained to the Bamboo Pool, located in the resort’s west end tower.
“The pool was fully loaded,” Cassell said.
Fire ”took off like a rocket’
The fire chief said that in 26 years on the job he’d seen his share of casino fires, but never one quite like this one.
“What made it move so fast were all the fake palm trees,” Cassell said. The plastic foam used to construct the imitation Arecaceae “is like solid gasoline to us,” he said. That’s why the fire “took off like a rocket.”
Corbin Williams, a guest staying on the 14th floor, described a chaotic scene.
“Alarms started going off and it became really chaotic.,” Williams, from Los Angeles, told CNN, “It’s pretty crazy over here. There are fire trucks everywhere.”
Matt Mills, who was sharing a suite with Williams, shot video through the door leading to the pool as the evacuation was underway.
“This is unbelievable. Unbelievable,” Mills is heard saying on the video.
Cassell said that several rooms on the 14th floor sustained heat damage, but the fire never got into the hotel itself.
Cause under investigation
Clark County fire spokeswoman Sandra Baker said, “Early preliminary reports indicate a landscaping fire,” but that investigators were still looking into the cause. Cassell said an electrical fire was also possible due to the amount of decorative lights festooned about the fake palms.
Williams, however, said his experience at the pool a day earlier left him with an unsettling premonition that it might have been something else.
“I noticed cigarette burn holes in my cabana’s roof, I assumed they had been flicked from above balconies,” he said. “And I had that exact thought, that these things could catch on fire.”
Williams, who said he was staying in a complimentary suite because of “issues we had the last time we stayed (at the hotel),” nevertheless remained upbeat.
“Cosmo is one of the best places to stay, in my opinion,” he said. “You know, except for the last two times.”