LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Residents of the Alpine Motel Apartments where a fire killed six people describe a terrifying scene as they escaped the blaze, and point fingers at the owner, Adolfo Orozco-Garcia, for failing to do necessary repairs that might have saved lives.
Orozco-Garcia and his co-defendant, Malinda Mier, are facing numerous charges in the deadly Dec. 21, 2019 downtown fire.
Orozco-Garcia was seen as an “intimidating” figure who carried a gun, sometimes an AK47, when collecting rent, and warned an employee not to talk with police.
“The day after the fire happened, Orozco-Garcia instructed (name redacted) not to speak to the police until they had ‘gotten their stories straight,'” according to the report.
Forty nine current and former residents, as well as employees, were interviewed following the fire.
“Orozco-Garcia owed so many people money that he refused to come to work or fix anything at the Alpine,” one resident told police. Another said Orozco-Garcia didn’t want to pay $3,000 to fix a broken rear door because he planned to sell the building.
That broken rear door had been bolted shut since Aug, 2019 and prevented some of the residents from escaping the fire.
The reports lists the main issues that contributed to the fire and deaths.
- Heating didn’t work in all apartments forcing residents to turn on their stoves for heat (It was a stove turned on for heat that started the fire)
- Back exit door bolted shut
- Fire alarm manually turned off
- Refrigerators and other items in the hallways blocking clear access
- Inoperable smoke detectors and fire alarms
One 61-year-old fire victim had specifically chosen the apartment nearest the rear exit because she was wheelchair bound and wanted to be able to escape easily in an emergency. She never made it past a vending machine and refrigerator in the hallway.
Another victim, a 57-year-old woman who had reached out to Nevada Legal Services — shortly before the fire — wanting to know how to get her landlord to address unhealthy conditions burned to death in her apartment.
The 63-year-old maintenance man, who is crediting with saving lives, was last seen trying to get the bolted door open. He collapsed and died at the hospital.
Orozco-Garcia and Mier each face one court of manslaughter for each of the six victims and 15 counts of performance of an act or neglect of duty in disregard of safety resulting in substantial bodily harm or death. Orozco-Garcia is also facing four counts of preventing or dissuading witnesse or victim from reporting crime or commencing prosecution with use of a deadly weapon.
Orozco-Garcia’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. and Mier’s is set for Aug. 20 at 1 p.m.