LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Saturday marks the anniversary of a Las Vegas tragedy that became the turning point in how hotel owners protect their guests from fires.
On November 21, 1980 around 7 a.m., firefighters got a call of a fire at the MGM Grand hotel and casino. The fire started in the deli and quickly spread to the size of a football field, engulfing the casino floor.
The smoke and toxic fumes rose through the building and killed 85 people. Hundreds were injured in the fire, and two more people died from fire-related injuries in the days following.
A retired chief investigator, a firefighter, and the son of another investigator recount memories 40 years later.
The MGM Grand fire and subsequent Las Vegas Hilton fire 81 days later brought major safety code changes, including a requirement for sprinklers and smoke detectors.
As the lead investigator Mike Patterson put it, only a few more sprinklers on the ground floor could have headed off the tragedy.