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LAS VEGAS-Portions of the fire-retardant foam façade that burned in January atop the Monte Carlo were coated with a laminate that may have accelerated the blaze, according to a report released Friday by Clark County. An analysis of exterior samples found the laminate contained a resin that is more flammable than those recommended by the foam’s manufacturer.

The report also found that the laminate in some areas was one or two millimeters thinner than it should have been and in other areas had not been applied at all. All three issues run afoul of manufacturers guidelines and, therefore, county code.

“…the wrong kind of resin was used on two of the decorative bands near the top of the hotel and this caused the fire to spread faster than expected in that area,” Development Services Director Ron Lynn said in a statement. “[The other issues] may affect the durability of these elements but, unlike the use of non-approved resin, did not exacerbate the fire.”

The upshot is that the county has required hotel owner MGM Mirage Corp. to hire a Nevada-registered engineer who specializes in fire protection to recommend a remedy, which could include painting certain areas and/or replacing some decorative pieces.

The three-alarm fire on Jan. 25 was started by molten metal falling on the façade as workers used a hand-held torch to cut some metal on the roof, according to fire investigators. There were no serious injuries and the fire damage was largely limited to a small part of the exterior of the 3,000-room resort-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, though fire suppression efforts caused water damage to many rooms.

The hotel, built in 1998 at a cost of $344 million, was closed completely for three weeks before county building officials deemed the building safe for occupancy. The resort began reopening the week of Feb 12. By the end of the month, only 500 rooms on the upper floors most damaged by the fire remained closed, only because MGM Mirage decided to redesign the rooms. Through June 30, 2008, the Company had received $50 million of insurance recovery income related to the fire and the lost business.

Hughes & Associates prepared the report for Clark County based on testing and analysis performed by MVA Scientific Consultants.

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