Residents at Deadly Las Vegas Apartment Fire Call Maintenance Worker a Hero

A maintenance worker at a Las Vegas apartment complex has been hailed as a hero for saving lives during a fire on Saturday that killed six people and injured 13, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The maintenance worker, known only as "Don" to most residents of Alpine Motel Apartments in Las Vegas, was identified as Don Bennett, a military veteran, by one of the apartment complex's owners who was familiar with him.

Bennett may have sustained serious injuries or died as a result of the fire, according to witnesses. The Review-Journal reported Saturday evening that his current condition couldn't be officially confirmed.

Newsweek contacted the fire departments of Las Vegas and Clark County as well as the city government for further information, but did not receive responses as the offices of all three entities were closed Sunday.

Witnesses credited the maintenance worker with waking up residents to alert them of the fire—which broke out in the early hours of the morning, while most residents were asleep.

Anthony Meadows Jr., a resident, described Bennett maintaining focus on this singular task amid the chaotic environment of the burning complex—which included people jumping out of windows to escape the blaze.

"Don knocked on everyone's door and said, 'Fire! Fire! Fire!'" Meadows told the Review-Journal.

Another man, Floyd Guenther, said he joined Bennett in waking up residents after he "saw a glow, like a fire." He also tried to turn on the fire alarms, but none of them worked. Further, the back door of the complex was bolted closed and people could not exit that way. Guenther said he saw Bennett trying to kick down the bolted door, but to no avail.

Bennett and Guenther pulled "a couple of babies" and dogs out of the front door until the fire became too intense and they went to the building's side, where they caught young girls being put out of the window to get them away from the fire.

Once firefighters from the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department began arriving on the scene, they were able to save some residents' lives by pulling them out of the fire. However, some residents maintained that Bennett should receive credit for alerting tenants to the fact that the fire had started.

KVVU-TV, a local Fox-affiliated news station, reported that the fire began some time before four a.m., when residents said they started to hear pounding on their door. Las Vegas firefighters responded to a call at the apartments at 4:13 a.m.

The blaze reportedly took place in one of the apartments in the building. "Fire investigators believe the fire started around the stove in the apartment," said Las Vegas Fire and Rescue in a press statement. "Other occupants of the building told fire investigators that there was no heat in the building and people were using their stoves for heat. The occupant of the unit where the fire started has not been located. The fire appears to be accidental, not criminal in nature."

The Review-Journal reported that the Alpine Motel had at least eight code enforcement complaints between 2016 and 2018, according to city records. Those complaints alleged the lack of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. However, Malinda Mier, who is reported to be the co-owner of the building, said the complex was up to code. "We have the fire inspection people come out and test the fire alarm systems, we have code enforcement come and go through the buildings," she said, as quoted in the Review-Journal.

Fatal fire media release . . .

— Las Vegas FireRescue (@LasVegasFD) December 21, 2019

With six people dead and 13 injured as a result of the fire, it is considered the most fatal in the city's history. The Las Vegas Fire and Rescue said Saturday the fire remains under investigation, and that the Red Cross is helping those who were displaced.

The city of Las Vegas will open an assistance center at 441. East Bonanza Road on Monday morning to "interview and assist families impacted" by the fire, according to a blog post on the city government's website.

This article has been updated to reflect Newsweek's attempts to contact authorities as well as some new information.

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Fire truck rushing to an emergency call, at night on Las Vegas Boulevard, with significant motion blur. The yellow truck, with lights blazing is seen against a backdrop of blurred neon and lights. SimonPRBenson/iStock /Getty Images Plus/Getty