On the night of October 1 a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada, leaving 58 people dead and 546 injured. It was subsequently discovered that he had also shot at a giant jet fuel tank on the edge of McCarran International Airport, beyond the venue where the concert was taking place.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that there were two bullet holes in one of two adjacent 43,000-barrel fuel tanks, along with black powder burns. Markings from investigators indicating entry points were still visible three weeks after the incident near the top of the tank, which airport officials said was partially filled at the time of the shooting.
One bullet made its way inside the tank, officials said, but caused no fire or explosion. A statement by airport officials said it was virtually impossible for gunfire to trigger a fire or explosion at a commercial fuel storage facility.
Richard Brenner, the Clark County Fire Department’s expert on hazardous materials, said on October 19 that the tanks were designed to withstand extreme forces.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the gunman, who was shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, may have tried to create an explosion or diversion by firing at the tanks after he sprayed the crowd of 22,000 at the country music festival.
“It is believed the fuel tanks were fired upon with intent,” Lombardo said during a press briefing on October 13.
County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani has called for a security review of the jet fuel tanks, which are about 335 metres from the Las Vegas Village venue where the festival was held.
The affected tank has now been drained and officials said they would hire a safety expert to inspect it.
The airport statement added: “McCarran’s fuel storage system meets all structural and safety requirements set by the National Fire Protection Association for on-airport fuel storage, as well as the standards set by the American Petroleum Institute. The airport’s tank farms are designed to include a combination of manual and automated fire suppression systems to ensure the utmost public safety.
“Likewise, in the event of an actual, uncontained tank fire, these systems are engineered to vent flames upward into the air rather than explode.”