Investigators Seize Items In Probe Of Deadly Downtown Fire

D.A.'s Office Conducting A Criminal Investigation

Associated Press
January 22, 2020 - 7:14 am
Scene of Fire At the Alpine Apartments on 12-20-19

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Investigators seized a computer and paperwork from a downtown Las Vegas apartment building whose owners were cited for code violations after a fire killed six people and injured 13 last month, according to search warrant documents.

No criminal charges have been filed in the ongoing investigation into the deadly pre-dawn fire Dec. 21 at the Alpine Motel Apartments. Residents later said the building lacked heat and they used kitchen stoves for warmth. Officials said the fire started near the stove in a first-floor apartment.

Investigators retrieved items from the manager’s office of the boarded-up property on Jan. 14. Records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal showed they were looking for inspection records, resident complaints and communication between tenants, managers and the hotel owner, Las Vegas Dragon Hotel LLC, and its managing member, Adolfo Orozco.

Officials have found that a first-floor rear exit door was bolted shut from the outside, and some residents — including a pregnant woman — resorted to jumping from second- and third-story windows to escape the smoke and flames.

City fire and code enforcement reports last month listed alarm system defects, fire doors that did not close properly and security bars that lacked emergency releases.

Investigators serving the search warrants seized the building alarm panel from the manager’s office as well as a cellphone and notebook from the unit of a maintenance man who died in the fire, the Review-Journal reported.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the newspaper that several agencies are participating in the investigation. Former District Attorney Stewart Bell said possible criminal charges could include involuntary manslaughter or second-degree murder and that it could be months before the investigation is complete.

Criminal charges against a residential property owner or manager resulting from a fire death could be a first in the Las Vegas area. The Review-Journal said a cursory search of its records dating to 1929 revealed no similar case. Neither Wolfson nor Bell could not recall such a prosecution.

Attorney Dominic Gentile, representing the building owner, told the newspaper that he is communicating with Wolfson’s office, assisting with the criminal investigation and conducting his own probe.

The sister-in-law of one resident who died in the fire filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit Jan. 8 against the property owner.