DATE/TIME: 122799/0730PST
RELEASE: 99-202


A fire in an apartment overnight on the cityís Westside, has claimed the life of a 28 year old Las Vegas man. He was found lying on the floor of the bedroom of his apartment. Fire Investigators believe the fire started in a Christmas Tree, which was in the living room of the unit. What caused the tree to catch fire is under investigation. There were no other injuries in connection with the incident.

Firefighters responded to the SILVER SHADOW APARTMENTS 8301 West Charleston Blvd. (between Durango & Buffalo) at 3:23AM, Monday morning. When firefighters arrived at the 2-story wood frame/stucco apartment building, there was no evidence of fire or smoke. Firefighters walked around the building to find the fire and found an open door to one of the downstairs apartments. When they looked in, they found there had been a fire in the unit, but the fire was out. Firefighters went into the apartment to see if anyone was inside and found the man in the bedroom.

Fire Investigators believe the fire started in a Christmas Tree, which was in the living room. It appeared the tree quickly burned and burned itself out. It also damaged a number of items in the living room of the unit. There was heavy smoke damage throughout the entire apartment. Damage was estimated at $20,000.

Although Fire Investigators believe the Christmas Tree is the cause of the fire, they have not determined what caused the tree to burn. Because a fatality is involved, Metro Homicide detectives are also looking into the incident (which is routine anytime there is a fire fatality). The cause of the manís death will be determined later today after an autopsy is performed by the Clark County Coronerís Office. The identity of the man is not being released before family members are notified.

The fire was discovered by the manís roommate when she came home just after 3:00AM. She told Investigators she left the apartment earlier in the evening to visit friends. When she came home, she opened the front door and discovered there had been a fire. She ran to another apartment and called for help. When she returned to the apartment, the fire had already burned itself out.

It is unclear if a working smoke detector was in the apartment. One smoke detector was found in the apartment, disconnected and sitting on a table. It was not clear if that was the smoke detector that is normally found in the apartment or a different unit.

This is the fifth fire fatality in the city for 1999. At this same time last year, nine people had lost their lives due to fire. This is the first Christmas Tree fire in the city this year.