LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Residents in the southwest Las Vegas valley were evacuated in the early morning hours of Tuesday, as a fire raced through a nearby apartment complex that was under construction.
Witnesses tell 8 News Now the complex was nearly done.
The fire, which was reported just before midnight, threatened nearby homes and businesses while winds whipped fire embers into the air, carrying them into a neighborhood near Tropicana Avenue and Ft. Apache Road.
“We saw a lot of embers in our backyard. A lot of embers,” said Curtis Marchand.
Neighbors were woke up by knocks on their door from police telling them about the massive fire happening close by.
“Sounded like minor explosions,” said Billy Thompson.
The fire was so large, the flames were visible for miles and many captured the images in photos and video.
“Saw embers, like that stuff right over there, blowing down the street. fireflies all in the air like in Vietnam. It was just totally devastating,” Thompson said. “The police turned the corner and said ‘get in your car, you gotta go.’ I said I got an old dude across the street I got to check on him.”
Ely at Fort Apache, the luxury apartment complex that was under construction, is now charred rubble.
“It was worse than I imagined,” he said. “I’ve seen big fires, but not with the winds like this. It was out of control.”
Evacuee Joey Kadourah recounted, “I remember people crying, screaming and shouting.”
The Kadourah’s were another family who woke to the blaze.
“Immediately, when we opened the door when Metro banged on the door, we could smell the smoke,” shared Sharon Kadourah. “We could see that it was getting hazy. I thought that our building was on fire.”
Joey and Sharon live in an apartment just down the street from where the fire started.
“When I came out here, that’s when I got really worried because the wind was blowing, and it looked like it was coming over here,” Joey said. “I definitely thought in that instant that we were going to get it in that building, as well.”
He is an Army veteran and former cop. When he realized what was happening, he sprang into action, going door-to-door, making sure neighbors were evacuated to safety.
“I tried to get as many people as I could out of the building, that was my main concern,” shared Joey. “I didn’t even grab my documents; she grabbed everything. Like I said, my main concern was helping elders.”
The Kadourah’s had an emergency “go-bag” already packed with important documents and items, which helped them get out quickly. As they left the complex, they describe seeing large embers flying into nearby trees and bushes, even hitting their car.”
“It was chaos out here, it was,” said Joey.
“Running back and forth, people without shoes because they had no clue; they weren’t prepared,” Sharon recounted. “They just wanted to get out.”
Thankfully, no one was injured in the fire. Throughout the afternoon, fire crews were putting out hotspots and assessing the damage.
We are waiting to hear the cause.