LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – Investigators believe a careless smoker started a wind-fueled, three-alarm fire that caused extensive damage to a northwest Las Vegas apartment building Monday morning, forcing at least 40 people out of their homes, according to authorities.
The blaze broke out at the Cornerstone Crossing apartment complex on the 6600 block of West Washington Avenue near Rainbow Boulevard just after 10:30 a.m. Monday, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said.
By the time fire crews arrived, at least one quarter of the two-story building was already covered in flames driven by stiff northerly winds, Szymanski said.
By the time the second alarm was called, the flames had extended into the attic and several surrounding buildings in the complex were evacuated as a precaution. With winds pushing the flames into the attic faster than firefighters could get water on it and the roof in danger of collapse, firefighters had to fight the blaze from the outside, prompting the third alarm.
It took the combined force of more than 100 fire personnel approximately one hour to douse most of the fire.
There were no reported fire-related injuries, however, two victims were taken to nearby hospitals for minor medical emergencies.
Fire investigators said the blaze started as a careless smoking accident on a downstairs outside patio. Though several people used fire extinguishers in an attempt to put the fire out, the stiff winds spread embers and fanned the flames to the decking above and to other apartment units, spreading the fire within minutes, Szymanski said.
The building sustained extensive damage estimated at $1 million.
The American Red Cross was assisting at least 40 apartment complex residents displaced by the blaze.