Monday, Nov. 26, 1956 | 6 a.m.
A $200,000 blaze of unknown origin swept through the second floor of the Boulder Club early last night and thousands of Las Vegans lined Fremont Street to witness scores of gallant Las Vegas firemen save the city's oldest gambling establishment from complete destruction.
The fire, which started at about 6:30 p.m. in the forward part of the tinder-like structure, quickly devoured the ancient timbers of the 118 Fremont St. building and burst through the roof, sending tongues of flame shooting up into the sky. Clouds of dense smoke rolled out of the building and were wafted eastward over the town by a gentle breeze. Many bystanders and firemen were partially stifled by the smoke.
An elderly custodian, Eddie Roach, was trapped on the second floor by the blaze and was saved from death by firemen who brought him down a ladder to safety from a second-story window. Only one fireman was injured during the conflagration. He was Robert Rogers, who was knocked off his feet by a back draft on the second floor during the height of the blaze. He was not seriously hurt.
The fire was brought under control at about 7:30 p.m. after 30 firemen poured six streams of water on the blaze from three sides. The building adjoins the Horseshoe Club on the east side and firemen prevented any serious damage to that structure. However, a small amount of smoke damage resulted at the Apache Hotel over the Horseshoe where it was reported that drapery and clothing was damaged.
A great amount of water damage occurred in the Boulder Club casino. Firemen had to cut a hole in the ceiling of the club to relieve the water pressure, and gallons of water poured into the first floor, inundating the establishment. Slot machines and gambling tables sufferd considerable damage.
Shortly after the fire broke out, a safe containing $190,000 in cash was transferred under heavy guard from the Boulder Club to the Horseshoe Club for safe keeping.
Operator of the Boulder Club, Ernie Amante, sid thathe hopes o have the club back in operation in a few days. However, Fire Chief Elmer Gates told newsmen that the establishment would require extensive repairs before it could re-open.
The building is owned by Margo Goumond Hines and Lillian Witcher and, although it could not be fully confirmed, it is believed that they are fully covered by fire insurance.
Although the cause of the blaze could not be determined, Chief Gates surmised that it started in the dressing rooms in the front art of the second story of the building. He said when he arrived at the scene a few minutes after the fire started, he observed heavy flames in this part of the building.
The fire quickly swept through the second floor, which consists of offices and a meeting hall. Formerly, these offices were occupied by headquarters of various local labor unions; however, the unions, except the electricians, have moved elsewhere. This part of the structure was of wooden construction and highly inflammable.
The roof of the structure was almost completely destroyed by the flames and the second floor was gutted. None of the casino was damaged by the flames, but water seeping down through the ceiling and through the hole cut in the ceiling was extensive.
Patrons of the club first became aware of the fire when smoke began pouring into the casino from ventilators. It was only a short while before the casino was completely evacuated.
Four fire trucks, one ladder unit and a tanker answered the call from the main station in a matter of minutes after the alarm was turned on from the club.