Las Vegas fire investigators have ruled the cause of an overnight fire that took the life of one man and sent three others to the hospital as undetermined.
Fire investigators determined the fire started in the bedroom where the man who was killed stayed. Because of the intense destruction caused by the fire, an exact cause could not be pinpointed.
One possibility is careless smoking. The bedridden man was a heavy smoker, according to the other three men who lived in the house who expressed there was concern about his smoking.
An older-type electric space heater was also found near the origin of the fire. Occupants said the man used the space heater. The heater may have been too close to the bed or other combustible items in the room may have caught fire.
Fire dispatchers received several 9-1-1 calls at 12:09 a.m. that the house at 4316 Nolan Lane (Alta/Decatur) was on fire and someone may be trapped inside. Callers also stated that one of the occupants was being pulled out of the house through a window on the front of the house.
When firefighters arrived a few minutes later, heavy fire and smoke was showing from the one story wood frame/stucco house. Firefighters entered the house and brought it under control in 10 minutes. Once they knocked down the fire, they found the body of a male adult in a rear bedroom.
Three other men who also lived in the house were taken to the hospital for minor smoke inhalation and possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Their injuries were not life threatening. One has since been released. The American Red Cross will be offering assistance to the occupants.
The occupants told fire investigators that the men lived in the house together for the past two or three years. Three of the men and a visiting nurse tended to the bedridden man.
One of the occupants said that just after midnight, he was watching television and smelled smoke. He went around the house to check and as he walked down the hallway to a bedroom at the rear of the house, he encountered thick black smoke. He made it to the bedroom where the bedridden man was staying, but could not enter because of the smoke. He said he could see a glow from the fire on the floor. He headed back toward the front of the house to escape, but he could barely see. He and one other man just made it out the front door when the entire inside of the home engulfed in flames. One other man was still in a bedroom on the front of the house, he escaped through a window helped by neighbors.
The man’s cause of death and identity will be determined by the Clark County Coroner’s Office later. If the fatality is ruled the result of the fire, it will be the first in the city this year. A total of five people died in fires in Las Vegas during 2012, which was up from two in 2011.
The fire gutted the interior of the home and destroyed just about everything inside. Damage was estimated at $100,000.
Careless smoking is the leading cause of fatal fires in Las Vegas as well as the rest of the United States, especially between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are sleeping.
Space heaters also cause many fires and fire related injuries in the United States especially during the months of January through March because of the cold weather. It is usually because space heaters are placed too close to combustible objects such as beds or sofas or people drop combustible items onto the heaters, such as clothing. Space heaters should not be used when sleeping and should be off when no one is at home.
Smoke alarms save lives every day across the country. They should be tested once each month to ensure they are operational. Batteries in smoke alarms should be changed once a year, the same weekend that you change your clocks back to standard time in the fall each year.
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