Las Vegas Fire Investigators today determined that a fire that extensively damaged a home in Tournament Hills Tuesday, July 23 did not involve foul play and believe it was accidental in nature. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation, an electrical origin is being closely examined by investigators.
Private fire investigators from the insurance company that insures the home has been working side by side with Las Vegas fire investigators for the past week at the home at 1517 Champion Hills Lane. Investigations are usually conducted this way for large loss fires because the insurance companies have more resources to assist with the investigation. Las Vegas fire investigators are obligated by law to determine if arson was the cause and to also determine the official cause of fires.
Las Vegas firefighters responded to the fire at 4:35 p.m. last Tuesday after a neighbor noticed smoke coming from the 8500 square foot two story wood frame/stucco house.
When firefighters arrived, they had to force entry into the home, no one was at home. They found the house full of smoke. They made their way to the second floor and smoke was extremely thick and there was intense heat. They checked the ceiling and found there was fire in the attic area of the house. A minute later, part of the second floor collapsed into the kitchen on the first floor. Firefighters then evacuated the house because conditions quickly deteriorated. Firefighting then went into the defensive mode which means they had to fight the fire from the outside.
A short time later fire broke through the roof of the house and a second alarm was dispatched. Some of the attic contents fell onto the second floor and the areas that were not involved with fire before were ablaze. Firefighters used master streams mounted on fire engines and aerial ladders to spray nearly 5,000 gallons of water a minute on the intense flames. After a short time, the fire was brought under control, but it remained too dangerous for firefighters to enter the structure because of the possibility of additional collapse.
Fire investigators determined the fire originated in the kitchen. The fire is believed to have started in a wall or other void in the walls or ceiling and burned for a long period of time, possibly for several hours before it became noticeable on the outside. By the time firefighters arrived, the fire burned and caused the second floor to crash into the kitchen, the area where the fire had been burning the longest. The fire also spread into the attic through chases and burned again for an extended amount of time before being noticed on the outside.
By the time firefighters were notified of the fire and arrived on scene, they were attempting to make up for loss time. The fire was so far along at that point it took time to put enough water on the extensive fire to overtake it.
Thirty pieces of equipment with 70 personnel responded to the fire. No one was hurt during the incident. No one is displaced. The occupants were out of town and a responsible person who is taking of the house was on scene taking care of matters. There were no occupants or pets in the main house.
There is also a small apartment over a large garage behind the house where a person is staying, that was not damaged by the fire.
Las Vegas fire investigators have concluded their investigation into the fire. The private investigators will be working in an attempt to find the exact cause of the fire.
An exact damage estimate has not been finalized, but fire investigators believe it will start at $4 million and possibly go higher.