Four people were killed and 29 injured Sunday when fire raced through a motel frequented by transients that had been closed for fire safety violations last year, authorities said.
The fire swept through twin two-story wings of Motel 5, about a mile north of downtown Las Vegas, forcing residents to jump from second-story windows.
Robert Mills, North Las Vegas fire marshal, said the blaze was of suspicious origin and that three people were being questioned.
The fire broke out just after 8 a.m. Some residents ran through the two wings, which are connected in a U-shaped arrangement, pounding on doors to awaken neighbors, Mills said. The only fire escape is located at the end of one leg of the U.
Mills said smoke alarms sounded, but there were no sprinklers in the building.
Closed by Court Order
North Las Vegas Municipal Judge Gary Davis, who was at the scene, said he had ordered the motel closed more than a year ago because of health violations and a lack of adequate fire protection.
"They had people living in there who were practically crippled, who couldn't get around," Davis said. "As for fire protection, I think it was nonexistent."
Davis said he did not know when it reopened after he ordered it closed last year.
"I've asked many times how they could open back up again with the violations they had here," Davis said. "They obviously got permits that allowed them to reopen. I think there are going to be a lot of problems for city officials here."
Assistant Fire Chief Myron Kimball said the motel was inspected by fire officials about five weeks ago, and "everything was satisfactory."
Kimball said there were 98 rooms in the burned-out area, and at least 80% of the rooms were occupied.
The motel is located on Main Street in a low-income area shared with automotive repair shops, pawn shops and used car lots.