CLINTON — Several slot players waited outside Wild Rose Casino Monday morning while the Clinton Fire Department investigated a report of smoke inside the building.
“It smelled to me like something electrical,” said Billy Rogis of Clinton as he stood outside the building. He was sitting at a slot machine when casino staff told patrons to leave the building.
No one told Rogis why he had to evacuate, he said, “but you could smell something.”
George Henson of Rock Falls, Illinois arrived at the casino about 8:30 a.m. Monday to play slots, he said. About 9:30 a.m., the casino announced that the building needed to be evacuated.
“They didn’t tell us why,” Henson said, but even through his mask, worn to stop the spread of coronavirus, he could smell smoke, he said.
Tired of waiting to reenter the casino, Ruby Thorton of Fulton, Illinois told Rogis that she had other things to do, but she’d be back. Thornton visits the casino at least once a week, she said.
Thornton was at a slot machine when she was told to evacuate. She smelled smoke, she said, and saw it coming from vents near the bar.
“I’m going to come back to see if everything is clear,” Thornton said.
Leslie Carber of Camanche waited in her car for the announcement that gamblers could reenter the casino. Carber is often at the casino, she said.
On Monday, Carber arrived between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. She’d played only two games when the casino made an announcement that patrons should stand by.
Soon staff members walked through the casino telling people to evacuate, she said. “You could smell something burning.”
A preliminary investigation by the Clinton Fire Department found a motor overheating in an air-conditioning unit, said Fire Chief Joel Atkinson from the scene.
Fire crews noticed a smell of smoke consistent with an electrical issue in the casino area when they arrived, said a press release from Clinton Fire Monday afternoon.
Firefighters found an air conditioning unit with an overheated motor on the roof. They also noticed that the casino was running on backup power and requested that Alliant Energy evaluate the situation.
Alliant crews found a second issue causing a partial loss of power to the facility. The company ensured that the building was safe from any electrical hazards, the press release said.
A power outage was reported in the area prior to the alarm, but officials don’t know if the outage were the cause of or had any effect on the Wild Rose incident.