The bodies of three more victims of an arson fire at a casino-district hotel were recovered Saturday, bringing the death toll to nine, fire officials said.
Fire Department spokesman Steve Frady said the bodies were pulled out of the north end of the 84-year-old Mizpah Hotel — the part most heavily damaged in Tuesday’s fire because of roof collapses.
“There’s still a potential to find more (bodies) because we haven’t completed the search of that north section,” Frady said. Efforts were to continue Sunday.
Hazardous conditions had prevented an earlier search of the north section, he said.
Crews have begun to shore up portions of the heavily damaged north section, Frady said. The roof collapsed onto the third floor during the fire, and a portion of the third floor fell onto the second floor.
At least 30 people were injured, three critically, in the fire. Police said 60 to 80 people had been inside the $150-a-week hotel, which mostly served boarders.
Suspect served time for murder
Valerie Moore, a casino cook and paroled murderer who lived at the hotel, has been arrested on suspicion of starting the blaze by igniting a mattress.
Moore, 47, was being held without bail on a parole violation while the investigation continues, said Washoe County prosecutor Richard Gammick.
Some owners with shops in the brick structure were allowed to enter their businesses briefly Saturday under police escort to remove business records and computers with business information, Frady said. The owners primarily reported smoke and water damage.
Crews had found three bodies Friday in an annex on the east side of the hotel, while two others were found in the south portion of the building late Thursday.
Another body had been found earlier in the parking lot. Witness accounts that the victim died as a result of a jump from a second-floor window were untrue, Frady said. The victim was pronounced dead in the lot after being taken there from a window by firefighters.
The discovery of the three bodies Saturday makes the Mizpah fire the deadliest in Reno history, state Archivist Guy Rocha said. The previous deadliest fires — a 1962 blaze at the Golden Hotel and 1879’s “Great Fire of Reno” — each killed six people, he said.
The Mizpah, which was built in 1922 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, had been renovated recently.