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No bodies found in second day of Key Largo casino search

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Updated: 3/31/2013 3:18 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- No bodies were found Sunday in the second day of a search of the burned out and abandoned Key Largo Casino building on Flamingo near Paradise.

Dogs provided by FEMA indicated the possibility of bodies in the rubble on Friday, prompting a search by hand and thermal-imaging cameras on Saturday and Sunday.

But searches over the weekend by Clark County firefighters did not find human remains.

The building will be turned over to its owner, Flamingo 2005 LLC, for demolition. The county issued the demolition order on Friday, a day after a four-alarm fire caused $4.5 million in damage to the building east of the Strip that has been shuttered since 2005.

The cadaver dogs picked up on a scent of possible bodies in two areas.

Heavy machinery was brought into the south end of the building where the dogs had one "hit" and it was torn down slightly to make it safe for crews to search by hand for human remains. The north end where a second hit was recorded was searched on Sunday.

“The dogs kinds of see the world through their nose” said the dog’s handler, Captain John Bernstein of the North Las Vegas Fire Department.

He brought his dog, Goliath, to the aftermath of the fire scene, and on Saturday rechecked the southern part of the building just to be sure. Bernstein explains what happens when Goliath finds something.

“If he were to find blood or tissue or the odor of it, what he would do is put his nose right where he smells it and he would sit and look at me. That is his alert to let me know that there is something there,” Bernstein said.

Sometimes dogs can pick up a scent that my not necessarily be a body and that’s what happened late Saturday afternoon.

“He went around and did his pattern, and he did not pick up a hit that there was not an indication of a body there,” said Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Erik Newman.

While Goliath did not find a body on the south end of the abandoned building, the second area where the dogs got a `hit’ will be rechecked on Sunday.

“…and go through the area where the dog went through, go a little deeper, at least get to the surface and see if everything is good using thermal energy cameras,” Newman said.

Newman says the use of the dogs is part of the process as the building is being prepared for demolition. And while no bodies have actually been found, they have found squatters living in the unsafe, unstable property.

“We've got a swimming pool that is in the courtyard area that is covered with branches and stuff. we've got a lot of holes that are in the concrete that are filled with free standing water so what you think could be a puddle could be a three feet or four feet drop,” Newman said.



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