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USATODAY.com - Better fire safety in hotels saves lives

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Posted 11/20/2005 10:10 PM

Updated 11/21/2005 7:10 AM

Better fire safety in hotels saves lives

By Gary Stoller, USA TODAY

Thick smoke rolled through the New York Hilton near Rockefeller Center on the afternoon of Oct. 1, the result of a garbage fire in the basement.

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Hotel guests climb down a ladder during a fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, 1980. The blaze killed 85.

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Hundreds of guests were evacuated from the 46-story hotel, Manhattan traffic was tied up for hours and 33 people were treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation. But, most important, no one died.

It's an increasingly common outcome of hotel fires these days.

Jeff Christensen, AP Hundreds of people wait outside the Hilton Hotel in midtown New York last month after a small fire sent smoke throughout the hotel.

A wave of tougher building codes and fire-safety laws enacted in recent decades have left the USA a better place by one important measure: Deaths and injuries from hotel fires are down dramatically. At the same time, hotel fires continue to kill or injure scores in the USA each year, and the threat of catastrophe remains. And travelers outside this country continue to face higher risk, largely because life-saving automatic sprinklers, which have become common here, are more rare.

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Twenty-five years ago today — Nov. 21, 1980 — a fire at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas killed 85 and injured 700. It was the worst hotel




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