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MGM Grand Hotel Fire (1980)

MGM Grand, a casino and 26-story hotel with more than 2,000 hotel rooms and with approximately 5,000 people caught on fire.

What Happened?

A fire began in a restaurant known as ‘The Deli’. It was caused by an electrical ground fault inside a wall-mounted electrical receptacle. This fire spread to the lobby and thus, the first floor.

The presence of combustible furnishing, foam padding and moldings and a very large undivided area allowed for an extremely rapid fire spread and heavy smoke production.

Further, Due to faulty smoke dampers within the ventilation duct network, the toxic fumes circulated throughout the hotel’s air conditioning system, accelerating the spread of the poisonous gases.

A massive helicopter rescue effort pulled 1,000 people from the roof of the MGM Grand.

Analysing the Root Cause:

  1. Electrical Ground Fault
  2. 83 building code violations, design flaws and installation errors.


  1. The fire killed 85 people, and sent 650 to the hospital, including guests, employees, and 14 firefighters.
  2. Out of the 85 fatalities, four died of as a result of the burns, one jumped out of the building, and 80 died of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide.
  3. Heavy damage the ground floor casino and adjacent restaurants

What could have been done to avoid this?

  1. Have a trained personal examine the ground fault protection system to safeguard that it was fixed properly according to manufacturer’s recommendations
  2. Use of sprinklers and automatic alarms: In the MGM Grand fire, reports noted that if $192,000 more had been spent for sprinklers in more areas of the hotel, the tragedy could have been prevented. In case of an automatic alarm, people could be alarmed and evacuated sooner.
  3. Adherence to building codes and fire safety standards.

What should be done to avoid such incidents in the future:

Every time an Electrical Contractor completes a new electrical installation, extension, or modification to an existing installation he/she is obliged to test and certify that the installation complies with current standards.

Have a third party professional electrical installation safety testing and inspection service done for your establishment.

Ensure you include the following inspections/certifications:

  1. Electrical Safety Test/ESA Audit
  2. EICR Certification
  3. Earth Ground Test
  4. Short Circuit Test
  5. Relay Co-ordination Study
  6. Arc flash Study

Pictures and References:

MGM Fire - Case Study

MGM Fire - Case Study



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