Potential Witness Sought In Fatal Zanzibar Motel Fire

Reno Fire and Police investigators are hoping to speak to a potential witness to the fatal fire that occurred at the boarded-up Zanzibar Motel Monday evening.

The potential witness, described only as a white male adult, was seen leaving the incident just prior to the fire being reported at about 9:57 p.m.

Anyone with information about the fire or the identity of the potential witness is being asked to contact Reno Fire Department investigators at (775) 334-2300, Reno Detectives at (775) 334-2115, or to call the Secret Witness program at (775) 322-4900 which provides the opportunity for individuals to provide information while protecting their identity.

The fire cause and death investigation is being conducted on a joint basis by the Reno Fire Department and Reno Police Department.

Investigators say the fire was human caused and today are continuing to interview other potential witnesses to the incident.

Arriving Reno firefighters pulled two adult male victims of smoke inhalation from the burning one-story frame construction detached motel unit located on the motel site just behind the former Zanzibar bar that is also closed.

Reno firefighters immediately began cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the two victims before REMSA transported them to Renown Medical Center, where one of the victims later died. Identification of the victim is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The fire was quickly extinguished by Reno firefighters who confined the blaze to one unit in the detached section of the motel.

The Reno Fire Department responded to the incident with 36 personnel and five structure engines, two ladder trucks, two rescue units, an air support unit and including a safety officer and fire investigators.

A portion of Virginia Street was temporarily closed by Reno Police officers until after midnight to allow placement of engines and ladder trucks and safe fire suppression and rescue operations on the normally busy street.

Reno Police officers also assisted with scene security and witness location.

Fire investigators were on the scene throughout the early morning hours and were joined by Reno detectives and Washoe County Crime Laboratory investigators in conducting the fire cause and death investigation.

Reno Police officers at the incident said the Zanzibar Motel has been closed for about two years, and that during that period there have been numerous situations in which trespassing individuals have been escorted off the property.