“Debunking the Myth: The Old MGM Grand Was Not Imploded After the Fire in Vegas”

Vegas Myths Busted publishes new entries every Monday and comes complete with a bonus edition every Flashback Friday. Today’s entry is a flashback to August 26th, 2022. Be sure to mark your calendars for the 43rd anniversary of the MGM fire, coming up on Tuesday, November 21st, 2023.

There is a popular myth about the MGM Grand fire of November 21st, 1980, in Las Vegas, but the truth is much more traumatic than the fiction that surrounds it.​

MGM Grand 1980 fire
A tragically avoidable fire races through the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, 1980. Look at the hotel in this photo. Does it look familiar to you? It should, and not because it was once the MGM Grand. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

The MGM Grand opened in 1973 with more than 2,100 hotel rooms, and it was known as one of the world’s largest hotels. However, after November 21st, 1980, it became known only as a horrific and tragic site of one of the world’s worst hotel fires.

The tragedy claimed the lives of 87 people and led to changes in fire codes throughout Nevada and the nation.​

Many people believe that the MGM Grand was demolished after the fire due to extensive fire damage, but that is a myth. The truth is that the fire only caused damage to the casino and first floor and did not create serious structural damage. The original hotel tower where most of the deaths occurred continues to operate today.​

For more than 60 of the 87 victims, the fire fatalities were attributed to inhaling thick black smoke and carbon monoxide that poured through the air conditioning ducts, accumulating into a dense cloud. Many of the victims were likely still asleep in their beds.​

The MGM Grand reopened eight months following the fire with upgraded fire safety measures in place, including automatic sprinklers and a fire alarm system throughout the facility.​

An investigation into the fire found that installing the automatic sprinklers that the Las Vegas Fire Marshal recommended, but which were not yet required by law, would have added only $200K to the $106 million cost to build the MGM Grand from 1972 to 1973. Yet the hotel refused to comply.​

The myth that the original MGM was demolished allowed many hotel guests who stayed in the upper-floor rooms to do so without realizing the tragic history of those rooms.​

Fans of Vegas Myths Busted can look forward to more debunked myths every Monday on Casino.org. Check out VegasMythsBusted.com for more myth-debunking content. Have a suggestion for a Vegas myth that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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