2 Arrested in Las Vegas Casino Blaze
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Two people were arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed the historic Moulin Rouge casino, the city’s first to welcome black customers excluded from the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said.
John Antwan Caver, 29, and Fred Lewis Ball, 45, were expected to be charged Thursday with first degree arson, local and federal authorities said. The men, who were being held in jail, also could face federal charges because the Moulin Rouge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Las Vegas Fire Marshal Ken Riddle declined to discuss a motive or the fire’s cause, citing the ongoing investigation.
The May 29 fire gutted the old casino building, a few miles northwest of the strip, but its distinctive Moulin Rouge marquee was spared. Three people were injured and about 100 were evacuated from apartments that now take up what was once the casino’s hotel.
During its short run as a casino in 1955, the Moulin Rouge showcased The Platters, Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte, among others. The building hosted occasional events afterward, including a 1960 meeting when city and gambling leaders agreed to desegregate the strip.
It was listed on the National Register in 1992.
The long-closed casino had a string of owners and renovation plans _ and had long been a focus of preservationists. Last month, it was named among 11 Nevada historic places in danger of being lost to development and other pressures.
The current owner, Bart Maybie, has said he thought the fire was set in retaliation for a recent crackdown on drug dealers at the property. He has said he wants to rebuild.