MGM Grand Fire in Las Vegas November, 1980

NOV 21 1980 — NBC Nightly News story about the MGM Grand fire. At the time of the fire, about 5,000 people were in the hotel and casino, a 26-story luxury resort with more than 2,000 hotel rooms. Just after 7:00 a.m., a fire caused by an electrical ground fault (short), began inside a wall soffit in the Deli restaurant. Wiring insulation had eroded from the vibrations of a refrigeration unit that was powered by the wires.

Smoke and fire spread through the building, killing 87 people and injuring 650, including guests, employees and 14 firefighters. While the fire primarily damaged the second floor casino and adjacent restaurants, most of the deaths were caused by smoke inhalation on the upper floors of the hotel. Openings in vertical shafts (elevators and stairwells) and seismic joints allowed deadly smoke to spread all the way to the top floor.