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Pool fire at The Cosmopolitan fueled by fake palm trees

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  • In this photo provided by Julio Loredo

LAS VEGAS >> Firefighters said Monday that fake palm trees and high winds fueled a poolside fire on a rooftop at The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip over the weekend, a blaze that sent guests running and plumes of black smoke billowing from the casino-hotel.

Clark County Battalion Chief Leo Durkin the foam the trees were made of has become commonplace as a building material on the Strip and beyond for facades and decorations. While it can take some effort to ignite, once the foam catches fire it burns fast and with a lot of heat, Durkin said.

"We are not surprised when we see these products and the way they react to fire," he said.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze on the 14th-floor rooftop Saturday.

If it’s determined that the fire’s behavior was greatly affected by the foam decorations, he said it could lead to discussions about the need for changes to the fire code regulations.

"Had we not had the wind, this might have been a much smaller problem," Durkin said.

Clark County said in a statement that its building and fire codes "are among the most stringent in the nation."

County codes regulate the use of cabanas and temporary outdoor shelters but not decorations such as faux palm trees or patio furniture. The agency said it’s not aware of any codes anywhere that regulate such decorations.

String lights were hung from the trees, but Durkin says they don’t know yet if the cause of the fire was electrical.

No one was seriously injured, and no one was burned. One person was treated at the hotel for inhaling smoke. Another was transported to the hospital for the same reason.

The fire department responded with about 100 personnel including several chiefs, 13 engines, four trucks and other vehicles dousing the noon-time fire in about 30 minutes Saturday.

The fire station’s proximity to the development, adjacent to the CityCenter complex of hotels and casinos and just 45 feet from The Cosmopolitan’s pool deck, "contributed greatly to the good outcome that we had," he said.

The Cosmopolitan says it reopened its Bamboo Pool area Sunday morning, and only the 14th-floor guestrooms were off-limits.

The hotel has nearly 3,000 hotel rooms.

A hotel spokeswoman didn’t respond to questions about the casino-hotel’s palm trees, including if others are on site. The Cosmopolitan has a second pool, the Boulevard Pool, outdoors on the fourth floor.

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