Paris Las Vegas resort crippled by accidental power-line cut

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A contractor knocked out power Thursday to a Las Vegas Strip resort, displacing thousands of guests and gamblers, trapping almost a dozen people in elevators for a time, and prompting a room-to-room search of the 33-story tower looking for stragglers.

The entire Paris Las Vegas, including the casino, restaurants and shops, lost power about 9:45 a.m. when workers in the basement cut into the main power line, Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said.

The incident was called an accident during work that was authorized and scheduled, and there was no indication of sabotage or foul play, Welling said. No injuries were reported.

The full evacuation was ordered after noon, when the fire alarm system battery power ran low and backup generator didn’t kick in.

Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassell said about 3,000 guests and employees were evacuated.

As night fell, the iconic faux Eifel Tower lit up, but authorities decided it was too late to promise to let guests back in to the darkened 2,900-room hotel, Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokesman Rich Broome said.

Only people who needed prescription medication were being escorted by hotel and security officials to their rooms.

“It’s pitch black in there,” Broome said. “The building will stay evacuated until all power is restored and fire officials declare it safe.”

“It’s frustrating for us,” Broome added. “Much more frustrating for our guests.”

Broome said workers were drilling into concrete in a basement boiler room to reach the power main.

Displaced guests and new arrivals were directed to the Caesars-owned Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel next-door, where company officials were helping them find rooms at Caesars and competitors’ properties up and down the Strip.

Guests who missed or had to change airline flights, or had to leave luggage in their rooms, were being promised assistance, Broome said.

Eleven people were rescued from five different elevators, and a few people suffered from anxiety-related issues, but no one was hospitalized, the fire chief said.

Firefighters went door-to-door inside the darkened building to make sure everyone was out, Cassell said.

Entrances to the hotel were draped in yellow crime scene tape while hotel security guards stood by to ensure no one tried to re-enter.

Jay Sarno of Santa Fe Springs, California told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he won more than $1,000 on a Keno machine just before the power went out.

Sarno said the casino gave him a voucher to claim his money after power is restored. He said members of his travelling group walked up 18 flights of stairs in the dark to retrieve belongings before fire officials ushered them outside.

The outage drew comparisons to an Easter Sunday 2004 blackout that lasted three days at the 3,000-room Bellagio resort. Business losses were estimated in the millions of dollars.

No injuries or thefts were reported in that incident, and officials with hotel owner MGM Grand, now MGM Resorts International, said authorities found no evidence of sabotage or a criminal act. Nevada Power Co. officials called it an internal problem at the property.