“Vegetation” involved in fire on roof of Las Vegas hotel

A fire on the roof of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas created quite a show for people who came to watch the fancy water fountain display Thursday night. The Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote that styrofoam facades burned, but it appears that real or fake vegetation on the roof may have also been involved.

Firefighters were able to knock down the wind-driven fire about 25 minutes after it was first reported.

At least there was a wet line on one flank of the fire:

This reminds us of a similar fire on another hotel roof in Vegas in 2015. Here is a screenshot of part of that article:

Cosmopolitan Hotel Fire egas, 2015
Cosmopolitan Hotel Fire, Las Vegas, 2015.

Fire at Bamboo Pool at Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas

Cosmopolitan Hotel fire
Cosmopolitan Hotel fire. Photo by Courtney Cyr.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a wildfire, but today, July 25, there was a fire on the 14th floor deck of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. According to witnesses it spread quickly through palm trees and cabanas around the Bamboo Pool. News reports are saying two people were injured with one being transported to a hospital.

Several areas of the hotel, which has almost 3,000 rooms, were evacuated.

The Las Vegas Sun described the scene as the fire erupted:

The witness said the fire consumed half the cabanas around the pool in less than a minute. Guests were running and screaming as the fire spread “ridiculously fast,” and the entire pool deck area was quickly evacuated.

bamboo pool
The Bamboo Pool on a better day to go for a swim. (click to enlarge)

A wildland firefighter might think — it had roads all the way around it, so, no problem.

It is interesting to consider what the primary carrier of the fire was, and why it spread “ridiculously fast”. You can click on the above photo to get a better look at the palm trees. I can’t tell if they are real or artificial, and the same goes for the clumps of vegetation around their bases. But they look like they could be authentic.

I don’t have much experience with palm tree fires, and certainly not with fake ones, but if a fire climbed to the top of one of these trees, I wonder how easily it could turn into a crown fire, with each one igniting its neighbor. If that “vegetation” around the base of the trees is flammable, then it could accelerate the spread significantly. In the video the trees are burning extremely well.

Those objects that look like upside down umbrellas are interesting. If the trees are real, those things could have accumulated some dead fuel as it fell from the trees, which would be good recipients for spot fires, adding to the fuel continuity and contributing to the rapid spread.

Another possible fuel is those mattresses. They are probably foam covered by plastic. In the video you can see some horizontal fuel fairly close to the ground burning furiously.

And you have to consider the Las Vegas summer weather. The fire started a little after noon on Saturday. At 4:20 MDT in Vegas it was 99 degrees, 11 percent RH, and the wind was out of the southwest at 7 mph. Almost Red Flag Warning conditions at the Bamboo Pool.