Seventeen people were displaced and eight residences were damaged by flames and water in a two-alarm fire at a large apartment complex in northwest Las Vegas early Saturday, firefighters said.
No one was injured and the fire is under investigation to determine the cause and estimate the damage cost to the residences, according to Las Vegas Fire Chief Fernando Gray.
Gray had just finished briefing his crew at the site of the fire, the Bella Solana Apartment Homes at 7101 Smoke Ranch Road, as firefighters checked for hot spots and water and ashes still flowed into the parking lot.
Firefighters were called to the complex, near Rock Springs Drive just west of U.S. Highway 95, at 7:13 a.m. and minutes later commanders asked for a second alarm, ultimately sending 23 units to the scene, said Diana Paul, spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Fire Department.
Firefighters doused the blaze at 8:08 a.m. Seven adults and 10 children were displaced and fire officials requested the Red Cross to provide assistance, Paul said.
Neighbors alert residents
Some neighbors ran to knock on doors to alert and help evacuate residents as smoke and then high flames rose from the roof of one of the complex’s two-story buildings that house several units each.
Terry Georgiou, 38, a resident awakened during the fire, said he saw flames about 6 to 8 feet high as crews used axes to pound into the roof and a pair of firefighters were elevated in a tower ladder bucket to spray water from a pressurized hose.
“It took them a while to put it out, about a half-hour to 45 minutes,” Georgiou said. “It was a pretty big fire. These guys did a pretty good job, though.”
Vertis Henry, 33, was among the residents of eight apartments displaced, along with a friend, Shardae Strong, 27, who was visiting from California.
A neighbor awakened them by banging on the door to their first-floor apartment, one unit over from the upper unit that caught fire, to warn them to get out.
“When I opened the door I was hit by a wave of smoke,” Strong said.
Henry complained that she heard no fire alarm at the complex and said she reported that fact to a firefighter.
Both said that the two former residents of the unit above them where the fire started had recently vacated the apartment.
A woman who said she represented BH Management, based in Iowa, which oversees the complex, declined to comment.
The 320-unit complex is owned by NexPoint, of Dallas, Texas, according to the county assessor’s office website.
‘I’m numb right now’
Another displaced resident, Susan Fierro, 59, also said she was awakened by loud knocks on her door and met with billowing smoke when she fled her apartment, which was directly beneath the fire-scarred unit.
“My whole life is in there,” said Fierro, who moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in February and works as a cashier at Harry Reid International Airport.
Fierro said firefighters told her that the ceiling of her apartment caved in. She said that although her rent included a payment for renter’s insurance, she was unsure if it covered her property in the unit.
“I’m numb right now,” she said.
Among her possessions in her apartment, she was most concerned about the urn containing the cremains of her late son, Xavier Steen, who was murdered in Henderson at age 34 in January 2021.
Steen died from complications of gunshot wounds to both of his legs, two weeks after a man involved in a car accident with him in Henderson allegedly shot him. Ironically, Marquis White, 29, was just arrested earlier this month in connection with Steen’s murder.
When Fierro saw a firefighter walk by, she asked if he had found the urn inside her water-soaked apartment.
“Not yet,” the firefighter said.
Contact Jeff Burbank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at @JeffBurbank2 on Twitter.