Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

Not sure how serious this is yet. Obvious now that it was pretty serious.

Update: I'm watching the live video on and it looks pretty bad. Lots of black smoke that actually looks like it is coming from two places.

Updated: The fire is extremely bad. Multiple floors on the South side - that side of the building at the top are basically destroyed. Major destruction. Wow, this is really bad. Clark County Firefighters are incredibly brave - they are up on the roof working to put this out. I guess guests are being moved to MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nice.

Diablo's Cantina indeed. I hope no one was hurt.

One interesting point - on the South side there, there is no low rise building at the base of the hotel tower. Hopefully that is making it easier to get crews closer from the ground.


Hats off to the amazing work of the Clark County Fire Department in getting this thing under control so quickly - and it does seem to be pretty much under their control now, despite the few flames still burning. Now the question is what does this mean for the property - how bad is the damage?

Update: Thanks to Mike_Ch, some more photos of the aftermath:


Read archived comments (56 so far)
January 25, 2008 11:36 AM Posted by Joey from Boston

Holy Mackerel.

I didn't even think a building built this recently could burn like that. Aren't there fire doors and sprinkler systems that would effectively contain a fire like that to a small area?

Damn, that'll put a crimp in your vacation plans. Hopefully no one gets seriously injured.

January 25, 2008 11:39 AM Posted by Tom M

Wow this is really a huge fire. I am shocked that a fire this large got started and is so out of control. Where are the sprinkler systems??? I wonder if it will be large enough to have to tear down the hotel. Not a good day for MGM.

January 25, 2008 11:40 AM Posted by Matt in Vegas

This fire is going to be extremely hard to put out. It is spreading rapidly along the top of the roof. Debris falling is also causing fires to break out on lower levels.

A full evacuation of the resort is in effect.

Looks like now there are a couple of fire hoses on top trying to spray the blaze down.

January 25, 2008 11:42 AM Posted by Hunter

The stuff that the fake pillars are made out of looks like styrofoam when you see it up close. Like injection molded crapola that looks like it burns pretty good.

January 25, 2008 11:47 AM Posted by socalduck

Yeah, whatever materials they used along the crown of the building seem to be burning fiercely. Oddly enough, it appears to burning down the building, although perhaps that's due to falling debris hitting that ledge around the 28th floor. After the MGM fire, I figured they had the ability to knock something like this down within moments.

January 25, 2008 11:53 AM Posted by Joey from Boston

MGM room rates will probably go up in the next week if they have to relocate all the people that were scheduled to stay at MC.

Hopefully there are no serious injuries.

3 alarm fire huh? I would think it would be a whole lot more alarm fires than that.

January 25, 2008 11:58 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

This thing is crazy, the word here is that the EFIS is burning and fueling the fire.

Also word from inside the Monte Carlo is that the fire started on the sixth floor.

I guess now they can add a few rooms to City Center...

January 25, 2008 11:59 AM Posted by Matt in Vegas

Word I hear is that everyone has been evacuated to the MGM Grand Garden, and will be re-checked into that hotel.

Fire looks to be getting contained, though I wouldn't expect them to allow anyone to stay in the resort for sometime.

January 25, 2008 12:03 PM Posted by Aaron_B

I can�t believe the exterior of the building is burning so rapidly. I wonder if the materials used to construct the fa�ade meet fire rating requirements or if somebody substituted materials during construction? Maybe MGM will now have the excuse they need to implode Monte Carlo and expand City Center�s footprint? Hopefully no one has been injured in this fire!

January 25, 2008 12:05 PM Posted by Hunter

It sure looked like the EIFS was burning like mad.

January 25, 2008 12:14 PM Posted by Hunter

They're now reporting no injuries, which is good.

The Sun story says that welders were on the roof at the time it started, though no clue if that's what started it.

January 25, 2008 12:37 PM Posted by Brian Fey

No injuries, WOW that is GREAT! I'm shocked. Looks more work for Perini is on the way!

January 25, 2008 12:44 PM Posted by Tom M

They are now saying that the sprinklers did work and that most of the damage was to the roof and exterior facade. However, water damage from putting the fire out and damage to the AC systems will probably close this place for some time. Any guesses on how long it will be closed?

January 25, 2008 12:45 PM Posted by Mike T

One of Monte Carlo's guests was just on the phone on CNN saying that there was no alarm going off while the building was burning. Instead, housekeepers were running up and down the halls, knocking on doors and telling people to evacuate.

January 25, 2008 1:01 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I think this is a surface fire that looks 10 times worse than it is. Roofing and exterior materials, primarily, and, I would guess, little or no fire inside of the building. I'm going to go on a limb and say the top 2/3 floors are back open by Monday, at the latest

January 25, 2008 1:01 PM Posted by Steve Friess

Folks - I'm handling the Monte Carlo fire from NYC, where I'm on vacation. If you are in Vegas and/or have a Monte Carlo story, please EMAIL ME as soon as possible at I'll need a # to call you back at so we can talk.

Also, if you were in Vegas for the MGM Grand fire.


January 25, 2008 3:54 PM Posted by Mark D

Maybe this would be a good time to reclad that monstrosity with something safer. Did you see how fast it spread sideways? If that had started at the bottom of the building it would have engulfed the entire structure in minutes.

January 25, 2008 4:16 PM Posted by steve_c

My girlfriend's brother-in-law is a steel worker at City Center and got some interesting shots from his cellphone as the fire first began. I believe these were taken from the roof of the main resort tower, but I could be mistaken.



I say reclad the whole building in blue glass, rename it, and just adapt the property into City Center.

January 25, 2008 5:41 PM Posted by hail2skins

I was watching the footage on the various news networks and one of the stations was showing a view where you could see the main City Center tower in the camera. The shot really showed how massive the main tower is going to be, particularly when measured up against MC.

January 25, 2008 5:46 PM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

UPDATE: The casino floor is scheduled to open again at 6:00PM PST

January 25, 2008 10:38 PM Posted by mike_ch

They just had a county inspector on TV. He talked about how he's walked around on the roof, etc.

He stressed that most floors damage was superficial from the outside. However, from watching the chopper footage in HD I can confirm that the top floor VIP high-roller megasuites are gone, baby, gone. You could see the flames rolling around through there. Elsewhere, he claims a lot of the damage is water damage.

He went on about building codes (MC is to codes made in 1991) and said that the building will go under all the tests of a modern new building, and that some work is going to have to be done to determine the extent of water damage.

January 25, 2008 10:54 PM Posted by steve_c

I still think this would be a great time to retheme the entire property, reclad the building and incorperate it into City Center.

January 25, 2008 11:01 PM Posted by steve_c

On the skyscraperpage forum (which i cannot become a member of because I don't have proper email- whatever!) lfc4life said that "i was watching the live interview with the buildings inspector for clark county and from what i could gather; he was saying the entire facade on the monte carlo would have to be replaced because the current facade doesn't comply with up-to-date building standards as its too thick (4 inches too thick i believe he said)"

Is there any truth to this? What does this mean for the other casino hotels? This could mean the end of the Monte Carlo as we know it.

January 26, 2008 12:15 AM Posted by Mark D

Yeah, Channel 8 did an hour long special and in the interview with the county inspector he said the EIFS is not up to current code and specifically said that all of it may have to be replaced. It's too thick, the newer stuff is thinner and somehow that makes it more fire resistant, but in reality it's still flammable stuff and I think should be banned on tall buildings. I don't know where Billy heard that the casino will be open at 6, is that true. Maybe that's when they started letting hotel guest come bact to retrive items from their rooms. They are being escorted to the rooms to get their stuff. But the casino probably will open before the hotel rooms, nobody knows when, but probably not too long. The inspector said they would permit it to open in phases. MGM has promised to pay all employees at least 30 days, if it takes that long to go back to work.

January 26, 2008 2:02 AM Posted by mike_ch

Boy, wish we had a podcast because it'd be interesting to discuss some of these things.

This stucco-covered foam business they use for the fake columns and stuff, aren't most of the hotels clad in this garbage? They provided a double whammy yesterday, as not only did they work almost like gasoline for the fire, but upon melting they'd fall as flaming debris.

The end result at the MC site was a river of fire falling from the sky, and the cars parked under that side of the tower were covered in soot and one had it's rear window broken in from something landing.

...But aren't all the hotels mostly using this? For instance, there's those phony columns on certain floors at Bellagio. Somebody here a couple years ago stayed in a suite there and took photos of that concrete-ish barrier in front of the window and how it was cracking in places and looking bad. Isn't that the same material? It's almost scary to think that all someone would need to do is use a flare to set off the kind of effect that we saw today.

Paris uses it, I think. NNY uses it. MEGACENTER(tm) uses it. Caesars first used it on the Palace Tower but now all the older buildings are clad in it.

What do you think, guys? Should this material start being banned on high-rise hotels? I realize that once all the fancy stuff burned away, the realization sets in that the Monte is a fairly ordinary concrete box. But I don't think MGM Grand, P-Ho, or CityCenter use the stuff and they look great. I'm not sure about Wynn.

January 26, 2008 7:21 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike described what I saw on TV perfectly: "A river of fire falling from the sky."
As soon as I saw that molten plastic/styrofoam/EIFS oozing down the side of the building, I thought this is going to cause some construction code changes just like happened after the 1980 MGM Grand fire. Mike said MC was built using 1991 codes, so maybe it's already been tightened. MC was built on the cheap from what I read, but I'm sure it had to pass existing fire codes.
We had some discussion here a year or so ago about the widespread use of EIFS. I think Leonard Stern brought it up, that Palazzo, Venetian and even Bellagio are fake stucco.

As I flipped between cable news channels yesterday, I realized how much more we all know about Vegas than those talking heads. There were quite a few incorrect statements about Vegas, but hey, that's TV.

January 26, 2008 7:28 AM Posted by detroit1051

I think most properties use EIFS for the low-rise podium structures like retail and casinos, but LVS seems to be all EIFS for Venetian and Palazzo. To get the old-world look of The Plaza and make it affordable to build, will it be EIFS?
How about Fontainebleau? I bet these issues will be written about in the media in coming weeks.

January 26, 2008 8:31 AM Posted by Mark D

The way I understand it, and I'm not in construction or anything so I might be wrong, the entire sides of some of these buildings are made of it, even the flat panels. It's used on all the new houses here too, but houses have wood frames and are already flammable. It's a layered type of material and the foam is not on the surface layer, but behind and the fire can actually spread without being fully seen. It's lighter and cheaper than making prefab concrete panels or masonry which is truly non-flammable and the way that type of siding used to be made on the older buildings. The EIFS is a good insulator, but it can also soak up water and be damaged by the weather if water gets behind it. That may be one reason they were able to put the fire out so fast because it soaks up the water fast. But as fast as that fire was spreading, if the fire department had gotten there ten or fifteen minutes later it would have been much much worse because of the flames dripping to the bottom and starting new fires that would then quickly climb the building in a few minutes and which surely would have spread to the inside burning beds and carpets and wallpaper and stuff like that. In the MGM fire a "fireball" raced across the entire casino at 15 feet per second, that's how flammable the insides are.

January 26, 2008 9:57 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Thde R-J site looks like everyone went home at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, and they don't plan any follow ups til Monday. The Sun site doesn't look much better. I agree with Detroit, I think we know more about what's going on just by our observation. I also think we are more intelligent and polite posters than any other site I've seen:)

January 26, 2008 10:07 AM Posted by Hunter

Bellagio uses EIFS for sure. All the fake embellishments on the outside of the building are made from this stuff.

Hell, basically the entire exterior skin of The Mirage and TI are made of this also. It was standard for a long time and is still used.

As far as I know WLV, does NOT use this stuff in the high-rise.

I'm going to learn more about EIFS.

Any interest in a round-table discussion podcast today or tomorrow? Call-in discussion format. I'd like to get commenters like Mark D in on this as well - anyone with any interesting info or thoughts, even if we are laymen.

January 26, 2008 10:14 AM Posted by Hunter

Funny - my search for 'wynn las vegas EIFS' brings back pages from this very site. Ha.

Anyway, it appears that while most of the tower at WLV is obviously glass, the white lines are EIFS. Still, obviously not as much potential to burn.

The entire Plaza design is EIFS.

Who knows, this stuff may be safe in 2008 but not so much in 1991? How long has EIFS been in use? I'm wondering if these sorts of problems have been 'solved' since MC was built.

January 26, 2008 10:56 AM Posted by Hunter

A quick reading of some 'Net materials seem to indicate that EIFS with foam greater than 4 inches is pretty much considered a no-no in modern building codes.

January 26, 2008 11:12 AM Posted by mike_ch

MEGAREPLY(tm) time.

Detroit: I'd say that every Strip hotel except Mirage and Bellagio were "built on the cheap." Like that side of MC, I bet underneath the decorations on most of these buildings you find a basic concrete box (or at Palazzo a thick steel skeleton.) I suspect even WLV, when you peel the paneling away, is a "cheap" structure.

I'm not sure about F-Bleau and foam. Schaeffer keeps going on about how modern it is and Mandalay was his pet project and it's mostly glass (though I can only guess what the crown is made out of, though.) CityCenter looks like it will be eschewing the material completely.

I guess I have to give Stern a little bit of credit for his obsession with steel and glass office-style highrises, though I bet they have their weaknesses, too. Watching the firefighters lean out of windows on TV I was thinking how lucky they were that this didn't happen at a hotel with floor-to-ceiling windows, as how scary that would be.

Hunter: The white lines are EIFS, presumably the white stripe along the 'bump' on the signature-side of the building is EIFS, too. That goes all the way up the building. Do you have any idea what's in the bump? Panoramic view rooms? I do know when the Encore tower was still missing a lot of glass, that part of the building looked less like a hotel room terrace and more like fire escape or some other utility room.

January 26, 2008 11:17 AM Posted by Hunter

In the bump in the main tower - fire escape / emergency egress stairs.

For Encore, the West side of the tower has two level panoramic suites and the East side is a fire escape system.

Encore Suite Side:

I'd have to dig up construction photos of that side of WLV's high rise.

January 26, 2008 1:21 PM Posted by Hunter

Let me suffix my comments to make it clear that I am very much a layman in this arena and I'm trying to learn as much as I can in a short time so keep that in mind when reading my comments.

January 26, 2008 1:22 PM Posted by Hunter

[This is Mike P.'s comment, not mine - I reposted this as I just moved to a new version of the blog software and this was posted in the old database. - Sorry! Ed.]

I'm pretty sure if you scratch the "stucco" on Wynn's podium you'll find EIFS is used there as well. Hunter or a contributor posted some pictures of Encore's low rise a week or so ago showing some Georgia Pacific "DensGlas" sheathing. The GP web site says it's "the ideal substrate behind brick, siding, EIFS, stucco and other permanent claddings".

FWIW the exterior walls of my house are made with insulated concrete forms, which are hollow styrofoam blocks filled with reinforced concrete. Manufacturers claim the styrofoam in those do not "promote" combustion, or some such verbiage, and they're supposed to have 2 to 4 times the fire resistance of wood frame -- most of that is from the reinforced concrete however. It's actually an excellent building material for the right applications, which maybe don't include highrises.

January 26, 2008 1:41 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

It's time for a podcast. The Monte Carlo event and Palazzo opening are creating an overwhelming desire for us to SPEAK OUT on these and other items. I promise I won't weenie out and not call in. But I do miss hearing Hunter's voice, regardless. The sound quality on the last couple podcasts with the call in thing were kinda hard to listen to, though. Can something be done?

January 26, 2008 2:25 PM Posted by BigRedDogATL

When you go to the Monte Carlo web site there are two pop-up windows that appear. In one of them is the following employee message that shows that MGM Mirage is planning on it taking some time to reopen the Monte Carlo:

Monte Carlo - Employee Message

Statement from Anton Nikodemus to Monte Carlo Employees concerning pay and benefits
January 25th, 7:25 p.m.

First let me say how grateful I am that not a single Monte Carlo employee or guest was seriously injured in the January 25th fire. Your professionalism and dedication resulted in an efficient and orderly evacuation of all Monte Carlo employees and guests and for that, I can�t thank you enough.

I am sure you have many questions concerning when the Monte Carlo will reopen and when you will be returning to work.

While we await word from Fire Department and Clark County officials about when we can re-open Monte Carlo, we want employees to know that if an extended closure is necessary, we will do all that we can to help minimize the impact of the Monte Carlo�s closure on you and your families.

To that end, we have taken the following steps:

1) We have established a Monte Carlo Employee Hot Line for all questions at 693-7005. Please call it regularly to determine if you are able to return to work.

2) We have placed on hold the hiring of any new employees at MGM MIRAGE properties in Las Vegas. This action will ensure that, if it is needed, we can offer priority consideration for available jobs to current Monte Carlo employees who will retain seniority rights.

3) Starting today, Monte Carlo employees will receive pay, health and welfare benefits and toke and tip replacement for the lesser of 30 days or the re-opening of Monte Carlo. These payments will be offset if during that 30-day period a Monte Carlo employee accepts another position at another MGM MIRAGE property or company or accepts employment outside MGM MIRAGE. Also, if a Monte Carlo employee accepts a position with a non-MGM MIRAGE company and is subjected to a waiting period before receiving health benefits, then MGM MIRAGE will continue to provide the employee�s health benefits for the lesser of 30 days or the re-opening of Monte Carlo.

Again, thank you for your patience. We will continue to keep you updated on the Monte Carlo�s status as more information becomes available.

January 26, 2008 3:56 PM Posted by Aaron_B

The website of the "EIMA" or EIFS Industry Member Association has a picture of Bellagio as the main banner on their website. I guess Bellagio was probably the worlds most expensive EIFS clad building built until Palazzo opened.

Hopefully not all of the EIFS clad buildings in Vegas would go up in flames as quickly as Monte Carlo did!

Hell, here on the east coast we have an increasing number of EIFS clad buildings going up including at the college where I work. I never would have thought EIFS could be so flammable given it's widespread use. It will be interesting to see if the Mote Carlo fire changes the use of EIFS.

January 26, 2008 4:11 PM Posted by Hunter

Regarding the re-opening of the hotel, an MGM Mirage PR person said not to read anything into the 30 days-of-pay for employees - they really have no clue on how long this will take and of course they could re-open 80% of the hotel and leave the top floors unoccupied.

January 26, 2008 4:20 PM Posted by Hunter

Regarding doing a podcast - how many folks could participate if we did something tomorrow?

Since we've been doing the group discussion type podcasts, I have been using a system called to manage the process. The quality is not always great, though they have made recent improvements along those lines.

Other than Talkshoe, I guess we could try some sort of Skype based conference call. I know some other podcasts use that format.

January 26, 2008 4:50 PM Posted by Hunter

An interesting play-by-play in the LV Sun:

January 26, 2008 5:39 PM Posted by BrianFey

Looks like this won't be reopening really soon.

January 26, 2008 8:58 PM Posted by Hunter

Lance Burton cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday. FYI.

January 26, 2008 10:54 PM Posted by Mark D

I heard Ron Lynn, chief of the Clark County Building Department say in an interview on TV Saturday that they can open back up as soon as the damaged part is secured or removed so that debris is not falling from the top. MGM said they will start on that Monday. Lynn also said that ALL of the EIFS that is not up to code will have to be removed from the entire building and replaced with something else that does meet the code. They will be allowed to do that work while the hotel is open. Now the question is, will it be open in time for Super Bowl weekend?

The TV crew also picked up some pieces of the foam that fell to the ground and it looked just like the white styrofoam used in packaging. Then they went around the building looking at where it's used and they found broken, chipped, cracked and wore out pieces all over the place (totally unrelated to the fire), and the white foam exposed. The foam is supposed to be covered with that stucco type of coating but that stuff apparently wears off.

January 26, 2008 11:05 PM Posted by Hunter

Yeah, I think I saw the same thing on the Web (or at least part of it).

I've seen this stuff from outside the window while staying at Bellagio - it literally looks JUST like cracked styrofoam, at least when looking at it from that perspective.

It did certainly sound like Lynn was saying the ENTIRE building needed to be re-clad. That sounds like a pretty intense requirement, especially considering that there are obviously other buildings with the same problem - will they all require this work? That's a huge deal if that's the case, especially for MGM Mirage, being so exposed on the Strip.

January 26, 2008 11:50 PM Posted by Mark D

I just looked through that EIMA site ( ) that ArronB linked to and I can't find anything in there any where that mentions anything about the fire safety of this stuff. They don't even mention the fire safety rating in the section promoting how great it is for insurance policies.

One one of the building forums someone pointed out that the new Water Club tower at Borgata in Atlantic city had a column of this stuff on one side of the building and the entire thing, over 40 stories tall, from bottom to top was engulfed in flames in a matter of minutes last year during construction. The glass facade right next to it on the same wall did not catch on fire.

January 27, 2008 2:36 AM Posted by steve_c

It appears at this time that we may be seeing an entire new Monte Carlo when it completely reopens.

A friend of mine and his wife were scheduled to stay at the Monte Carlo on the 13th and 14th for Valentines Day. He called last night and while they are currently only handling room reservations for this weekend, they were able to give him a number to call to check the status daily. The woman on the phone didn't think that they would be reopened before then, and said he would likely be moved to either Mirage, MGM or Mandalay Bay.

The telephone number for the Monte Carlo hotline is 866-676-7549.

January 27, 2008 7:00 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I think I can call in about any time, but you might just let it rip and do a podcast yourself. They were always fine in the past.

January 27, 2008 10:05 AM Posted by Aaron_B

From doing a little bit of reading on EIFS today it appears the the EPS or Expanded Polystyrene foam used behind the EIFS synthetic stucco coating to add architectural details is where fire danger exists if the material is not installed properly and too much of it is used. I found this New Zealand plastic website with information on the flammability of EPS .

The EPS Molders Association website pictures the Venetian .

January 27, 2008 6:44 PM Posted by mike_ch

They were probably going to remove the tower's facade anyway? Every time one of these hotels catches on fire or is witness to a particularly distressing news story, it undergoes a name change. MGM is now Bally's, International is now LV Hilton, etc.

There's almost no brand value in the name Monte Carlo, to most Americans the name doesn't evoke a classy casino in Monaco as much as it does a cheap Chevrolet (funny enough, the hotel's original concept name was Grand Victoria until MGM suits complained.)

The casino, restaurants, etc are all undergoing a new direction and CityCenter is going up right next door, so now's the perfect time to completely redress the property in a whole new name and identity to both bury this story in history and capitalize on the improvements.

Or, if MGM doesn't want to clean up and repair the damage, they could just rename it "Baghdad Hotel" and claim it's themed. ;D

January 27, 2008 8:55 PM Posted by tony stall

Guys, I am the vice president of marketing for Dryvit - the leading manufacturer of EIFS in North America. Thought it was not a Dryvit system on the Monte Carlo, I'd be happy to try and provide some facts regarding EIFS for you - there is much being said here that simply isn't true. Please feel free to contact me at my email address with your specific questions; I'll try and answer them all with facts.

January 27, 2008 10:42 PM Posted by Hunter


I'm very interested in speaking with you to get the straight story -I know very little about EIFS.

I will contact you tomorrow if thats okay.

Hunter / Editor

January 28, 2008 4:38 AM Posted by tonystall

Hunter, I'd be pleased to become a resource for you. Please contact me directly at your convenience.

January 28, 2008 10:32 AM Posted by Dave

mike_ch, actually, the Hilton name change happened about 10 years before the fire there. And the MGM-->Bally's change didn't happen until after KK sold the resort to Bally's, so it's not a slam dunk.

Renaming the Monte Carlo, I think, isn't the best move. With high-end PCC opening next door, I don't think that the capital investment needed to overhaul the place would be recouped by higher room rates. I've always said the hotel is vanilla, but it seems to be running well enough. Like NY-NY, it's probably not something that MGM would build today, but since it's performing well, there's no need to drastically renovate it, particularly with a few billion in planned projects already on the way.