Saturday 3 December 2016

Las Vegas Strip casino resort evacuated as power cut in 33-storey tower

Published 04/11/2016 | 06:43

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

A contractor knocked out power to a Las Vegas Strip casino resort, displacing thousands of guests and gamblers, trapping nearly a dozen people in lifts and prompting a room-to-room search of the 33-storey tower.

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The Paris Las Vegas, including the casino, restaurants and shops, lost power at about 9.45am local time on Thursday when workers in the basement cut into the main power line, Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said.

The incident was described as an accident during work that was authorised and scheduled. No injuries were reported.

The full evacuation was ordered after noon, when the fire alarm system battery power ran low and backup generator did not kick in.

Clark County fire chief Greg Cassell said about 3,000 guests and employees were evacuated.

As night fell, the iconic faux Eiffel Tower lit up, but authorities decided it was too late to promise to let guests back in to the darkened 2,900-room hotel, Caesars Entertainment spokesman Rich Broome said.

Only people who needed prescription medication were being escorted by hotel and security officials to their rooms.

"It's pitch black in there," Mr Broome said. "The building will stay evacuated until all power is restored and fire officials declare it safe."

"It's frustrating for us. Much more frustrating for our guests."

Mr Broome said workers were drilling into concrete in a basement boiler room to reach the power main when the blackout occurred.

Displaced guests and new arrivals were directed to the Caesars-owned Bally's Las Vegas Hotel next door, where company officials were helping them find rooms at Caesars and competitors' properties up and down the Strip.

Guests who missed or had to change airline flights, or had to leave luggage in their rooms, were being promised assistance, Mr Broome said.

Eleven people were rescued from five different lifts and a few people suffered from anxiety-related issues, but no one went to hospital, the fire chief said.

Firefighters went door-to-door inside the darkened building to make sure everyone was out, Mr Cassell said.

Entrances to the hotel were draped in yellow crime scene tape while hotel security guards stood by to ensure no one tried to re-enter.

Jay Sarno of Santa Fe Springs, California told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he won more than 1,000 dollars on a Keno machine just before the power went out. The casino gave him a voucher to claim his money after power was restored.

He said members of his travelling group walked up 18 flights of stairs in the dark to retrieve belongings before fire officials ushered them outside.

The power cut drew comparisons to an Easter Sunday 2004 blackout that lasted three days at the 3,000-room Bellagio resort. Business losses were estimated in the millions of dollars.

No injuries or thefts were reported in that incident, and officials with hotel owner MGM Grand, now MGM Resorts International, said authorities found no evidence of sabotage or a criminal act. Nevada Power called it an internal problem at the property.

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