The MGM Grand Hotel, scene last November of the second-worst hotel fire in U.S. history, is scheduled to be reopened in July. The 26-story building has been closed since the blaze, which took 84 lives and injured 679 persons.

Alvin Benedict, president of MGM Grand Hotels Inc. and chairman of the board of the corporation's Las Vegas and Reno hotels, recently was interviewed about the reopening and completion of the hotel's 23-floor, 780-room tower, which was under construction when the fire hit.

When completed, the original buildng, constructed in 1973, and the new tower will total 2,860 rooms, making the hotel "the largest casino complex in the world and, hopefully, one of the safest," he said.

Both buildings were designed by the same architect -- Martin Stern Jr. of Beverly Hills -- and although MGM' design was criticized in a preliminary report by the U.S. Fire Administration in January, Benedict said, "We have confidence (in the architect)."

Investigation of the fire are still under way but he said he expects a hearing with the U.S. Fire Administration soon.

However, the new code requires sprinklers in all the guest rooms, he said. These and other fire-control features not in the original building are now being included there at a cost of about $5 million, he added. The cost of reconstruction was estimated at $25 million; the new tower at $45 million.

The fire detection and control system for the entire hotel will include 30,500 sprinklers (for each guest room), smoke detectors in every room, manual alarms at every exit and within 200 feet of any point in the hotel and 8,000 intercom speakers for guest rooms and hallways. There will also be a central, computerized control or command center, which can monitor 1,300 locations; automatic recall of elevators to the ground floor, stairwell firewalls designed to hold back flames for up to two hours, and means to remove smoke through the hotel's ventilation system.