Big Las Vegas casino-hotel evacuated due to power outage

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A contractor accidentally knocked out power Thursday to a hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, forcing thousands to evacuate, trapping almost a dozen people in elevators, and sending firefighters into the pitch black building looking for stragglers.

The entire Paris Las Vegas lost power at about 9:45 a.m. when a contractor working in the basement cut into the main power line, Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. Power remained out as evening approached.

No injuries were reported, but Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said crews had to rescue 11 people who were trapped in five different elevators at the hotel owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

“A few people had anxiety-related issues early on but nobody was transported to the hospital,” Cassell said.

Some evacuations began immediately after the outage was reported. Welling said the approximately 3,000 people who remained in the building at that time were told to leave Thursday afternoon because the battery power was running low on the building’s fire alarm system.

Firefighters were going door-to-door inside the darkened building to make sure everyone had safely evacuated, Cassell said.

“That doesn’t mean there’s people in there,” he told reporters during a briefing late Thursday afternoon. “We are systematically going floor-by-floor, room-by-room from top down making sure everybody is out of there.”

Rich Broome, the company’s executive vice president, said he remained optimistic all power would be restored at some point Thursday, “but we have no timeline.”

“We are hopeful we will have it restored before most people’s normal bedtime,” Broome told reporters Thursday afternoon.

“We’re trying to keep people out of the casinos because it’s pitch black in there,” he said. “The building will stay evacuated until all power is restored and fire officials declare it safe.”

Most of the guests were being sent to neighboring hotels, including Bally’s and Planet Hollywood.

Entrances to the hotel were draped in yellow crime scene tape while hotel security guards stood by to ensure no one tried to re-enter. Hotel representatives set up outside the closed casino to try to assist its displaced guests, such as those who might need their medications still inside their off-limits hotel rooms.

Jay Sarno of Santa Fe Springs, California told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he won more than $1,000 on a Keno machine just before the power went out.

Sarno said the casino gave him a voucher to claim his money after power is restored. He said members of his traveling group had to walk up 18 flights of stairs in the dark to retrieve belongings before fire officials ushered them outside.