Arson ruled out in $200M Ariz. construction site fire
The Clark County apartment site fire burned for five days before being extinguished
By Patrick Blennerhassett
Las Vegas Review-Journal
LAS VEGAS — Arson has been ruled out as a potential cause of a massive apartment construction fire that took place this past summer in the Las Vegas Valley, according to the Clark County Fire Department.
Clark County Assistant Fire Chief Carlito Rayos told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a phone interview the investigation was effectively closed, but the cause of the June blaze at 8030 W. Maule Ave., in the southwest part of the valley, remains “undetermined.”
“We ruled out arson, and we feel very comfortable with that,” Rayos said, “so the investigation is classified as undetermined.”
Rayos said the biggest challenge for investigators was the fire burned for five days before it was completely extinguished, which hindered the ability to get on-site to investigate the cause. He said they believe the fire started on the northeastern roof of the complex, and they ruled out a number of hypotheticals, including fireworks, natural and accidental. He said high winds contributed to the size of the blaze, as well as the building being built with a wood foundation and not concrete.
“It was hours and hours of investigations, multiple investigators, multiple jurisdictions helping us out, and to arrive at that conclusion, sometimes that’s just what you get and you can only analyze the facts that you are presented,” he said.
The apartment and retail project from developer TRU Development Company was 75 percent complete when it was destroyed. Officials estimate the damage to be somewhere around $200 million, according to investigators who previously spoke to the Review-Journal.
The project was to include 614 apartment units and 2,500 square feet of retail space. The developer’s website says construction started on the Maule Avenue project called KAKTUSLife@thecurve in September 2017.
A request for comment from TRU Development Company Chief Executive Officer Tim Deters on the current status of the project were not returned, but work vehicles and building supplies have been spotted on the property in recent days.
Rayos said fire investigators weren’t able to draw up any reasonable hypotheticals where arson could have been the cause of the blaze. He said an employee also ran to the roof of the building when the fire first started and tried to put it out, but was unsuccessful. Owners of the property also provided a significant amount of surveillance footage from a number of sources. including contractors and subcontractors. Rayos said the developers were cooperative with the investigation.
But he said the case could be reopened at a later date if new information is brought forward.
“It was probably one of the most filmed and photographed fires in Las Vegas history just because of the time of day that it occurred,” Rayos said.”It was rush hour on the 215 (Beltway).”
Long history of the property
Atlanta, Georgia -based LMV Kaktuslife II Property Owner LLC owns the land where the apartments are being constructed, according to Clark County property records. The company bought the two-parcel, 16-acre plot from Spanish Towers Funding LLC, developer of the scrapped Spanish View Tower condo project, in 2021 for $5.2 million.
TRU Development secured a $246 million construction loan in January 2022 for two projects in Nevada, according to an article posted on the Multi-Housing News website. Beverly Hills, California -based Lucent Capital, a real estate investment firm, is the financier. According to the article, more than $134 million of that was earmarked for the Maule Avenue project.
This is not the first time the land has encountered a setback, as in 2017 the Review-Journal reported Deters, other investors and broker Jack Woodcock had taken over a previously failed project on the site and the property had been a giant hole in the ground for 11 years. During a 2017 interview with the Review-Journal, Deters said he planned to break ground on the project in 2018 and be finished by 2020.
Spanish View Tower’s developer, Rodney Yanke, first acquired the property in 2004 and planned 18-story condo towers on the site. Construction stopped in 2006 before vertical construction could begin. The site was acquired during bankruptcy proceedings by OneCap Mortgage who also later went bankrupt.