Homeless Have History of Starting Vacant Building Fires - 8 News NOW

Homeless Have History of Starting Vacant Building Fires

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The abandoned Key Largo casino burning March 28. The abandoned Key Largo casino burning March 28.

LAS VEGAS -- Days after a four-alarm fire sent smoke billowing into the air, the abandoned Key Largo Casino is still being guarded around the clock.

The known homeless hangout is the latest vacant building to catch fire.

On Saturday, the building, just off the Las Vegas Strip, was still hot after Thursday's fire.

Some homeless people had already snuck back inside part of the property after it went up in flames.

The Key Largo hotel and casino was a place familiar to vagrants for years, until they finally were forced out by flames Thursday afternoon.

As investigators searched for any burned bodies over the weekend, 8 News NOW cameras captured a man as he suddenly emerged from the charred structure, one of several squatters who had already moved back in after the fire.

Kevin Luckerson is homeless, and said many street people sought shelter at the Key Largo.

"It can be very dangerous," he said.

He said abandoned buildings are attracting more transients.

"With the foreclosures and the economy, a lot of people are going out of business," he said. "You've got a lot of vacant buildings, so homeless people are just trying to find somewhere to stay."

Last October fire ripped through the old Normandie Country Bakery, also a known homeless haven.

Vagrants were also blamed for the vacant El Cid hotel fire downtown in 2010.

That structure still stands, but the same can't be said for the now-demolished Alystra.

The vacant Henderson casino went down in a blaze of glory in 2008, and homeless, who camped in the boarded-up property, were suspected.

"We saw a pretty steady increase from about the time the housing market started to go down in 2008," said Don Coburn, chief of code enforcement for Clark County. "We peaked out with complaints in 2011. And then we're seeing a steady decrease now in the number of complaints we get on abandoned properties."

Although the complaints are down, dilapidated buildings are causing concern, because their inhabitants have a history of sparking some intense infernos.

The county makes sure windows are boarded and vacant buildings like this one are fenced off.

Meantime, security guards are patrolling the property, making sure no one trespasses, because part of the building is in danger of collapsing.

At this point, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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