Deadly motel fire has sparked change in protecting residents at extended-stay motels in Las Vegas

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 10:57 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The city of Las Vegas has inspected more than 1,000 units at extended stay motel and hotels over the last year, in an attempt to avoid another tragedy.

“We’re not turning the other cheek. We demand the compliance for the safety of our people,” Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, when the city approved annual checkups at residential motels last April.

Thirty-eight motel or hotels fall under the multi-family rental inspection program. The buildings are primarily downtown, and many have characteristics of the Alpine Motel. The building must be built prior to 1981.

Fire investigators determined the 2019 fire at the downtown motel started from an unattended stovetop in a tenant’s apartment. It was ruled an accident. Six people died in the fire. Dozens survived by jumping out of windows.

Prior to the rental inspection program, fire and code inspections in the city were complaint driven. A building could go years without and inspection, even if it had a history of failing inspections, like Alpine did.

Now landlords are required to fix violations faster. For example, if the heat is broken, they have 24-48 hours to fix it. Since the inspections began there has been a lot to fix.

The city found missing or broken smoke detectors in 24 of the first 25 properties they inspected.

The city has found more than 154 life-safety violations and 389 non-life safety violations, as of the code enforcement division’s last update.

Twenty-three properties failed re-inspections when code enforcement returned. The city can act against a business license if there’s continual issues.

Common violations include missing exhaust fans, water heaters installed without the required permit, hazardous electrical and plumbing violations and water damage.

The inspection program also relies on apartment residents. Each property is required to post a note with 24-hour emergency response, plus a contact for code enforcement.

Since 2015, at least 16 people have died in fires in older Las Vegas apartment buildings.