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Fire performers burned at Pahrump luau

Updated June 12, 2019 - 7:00 am

A fire dancer was burned Saturday evening when part of his costume caught fire while performing at a luau outside the Lakeside Casino and RV Park in Pahrump where officials said another performer received lesser burns during the show.

Initially, the dancer did not realize his costume was on fire as the blaze spread on his left leg, said photographer Horace Langford Jr., who was at the scene on an assignment to cover the luau for the Pahrump Valley Times.

Fellow members of the dance troupe used a tarp to smother the fire, Langford said in his eyewitness account Sunday.

The dancer eventually was taken away by ambulance with Pahrump Fire and Rescue arriving at the scene.

A statement sent to the Pahrump Valley Times on Monday on behalf of Lakeside Casino and RV Park stated: “A performer from Hana Studio is now being treated at University Medical Center in Las Vegas and is expected to be released in a few days. A second performer was treated and released for minor burns. We are saddened that an event held to bring enjoyment to our guests took this unexpected turn. Our thoughts are with both performers.”

Wind may have been in a factor in flames blowing on the second performer, injuring him, officials said Monday.

Langford — the photographer — stated that fire dancer he had witnessed catch on fire had been using a pole, estimated at 5-to-6 feet long. The pole’s flames caught grass-type clothing and the dancer’s left leg ablaze prior to 8 p.m. Saturday, Langford said.

The pole had been dipped in some type of flammable material prior to the performance, Langford said.

No one in the nearby crowd was injured, and the show eventually resumed with another dancer, Langford said.

A pre-show announcement on the casino’s website referred to the event as the “Lakeside Luau” — a free, all ages show featuring Las Vegas Hula. “Enjoy the dances of Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and so much more,” it stated.

Myra Tolo, owner of Las Vegas Hula, said Monday that the fire performers at the Pahrump luau were part of a separate group out of Utah and were not members of Las Vegas Hula.

Joseph Cancilla, the owner of that fire performing group — Hana Studio of Ogden, Utah —provided an update Monday on the condition of the hospitalized performer.

“He is in high spirits, happy that his recovery is going well,” Cancilla said.

Hana Studio performs about 130 times a year, Cancilla said. He described what happened in Pahrump as rare.

“We know the risks and possibility of what could happen,” Cancilla added.

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