Journal Article Title: Forensic Engineering Analysis: Smoke Transport To Upper Floors During 1980 MGM Grand Hotel Fire
Article Author(s): MECKLER, MILTON, P.E.
Volume: 4
Volume #: 2
Month: December
Year: 1987


The fire began at 7:10 A.M. When it was over four hours later, 84 people were dead or dying and another 591 people were injured-mostly from smoke related injuries. The Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel fire had become one of the worst fire tragedies in U.S. history. It is now generally accepted that some 80 percent of fire deaths result from smoke inhalation. Nearly two-thirds of the deaths occur away from the fire room. Victims can become incapacitated by heat, visible smoke, and/or toxic species within fire generated hot gases long before death from effects of one or more known lethal combinations of combustion products (i.e., such as oxygen depletion or temperature). The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defines smoke as a complex mixture of 'airborne liquid, solid particulates and gas evolved under pyrolysis or combustion. ' Highly dependent on combustion conditions, its toxicity often cannot be attributed directly to inhalation of one or more specific chemicals from known or suspected toxic fuels. During combustion, all fire-generated materials include amounts of highly toxic carbon monoxide (CO) and less toxic carbon dioxide (CO2). Depending on the amount of air oxygen present, these products can be produced in sufficient dosages to create toxically hazardous environmental conditions. These facts were found to be true during analysis of samples from real fire atmospheres taken by firemen using portable smoke sampling equipment.

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