Arson is suspected in an early-morning fire Friday at Cavallero Heating and Air Conditioning. The fire consumed about 30 percent of the building, located at 5441 Highway 50 East.
"Once firefighters got a handle on the fire, there were suspicious signs indicating that the fire was deliberate," Carson City Chief Deputy Scott Burau said. "Investigators from the fire department and sheriff's office, along with the crime lab, were called in at that point to collect evidence for an arson investigation."
Investigators also will be examining records and talking with the owner, Ken Cavallero, to determine whether the arson was aimed at him or his business.
"Our investigators will meet Monday with the insurance company and the owner," he said. "We'll have a more definitive answer at that time."
No one was in the building and no injuries were reported. Carson City Battalion Chief Richard Chrzanowski said drivers on Highway 50 reported the blaze about 4:48 a.m. and the first firefighting crew arrived minutes later.
"The fire burned through both floors and some of the ceiling joists," he said. "If we hadn't caught it when we did, the exterior walls would have been damaged."
The east end of the building was gutted before firefighters could cut off the fire at a stairwell. The remaining 70 percent of the 24-year-old building, untouched by fire, suffered severe smoke damage.
Burau said the business offices and roof were severely damaged, but inventory loss was minimal.
Cavallero said he came directly to the scene when he was called by firefighters. The burned area housed his office, computers and shop.
"Our livelihood just damn-near burned down. We're definitely at a standstill," he said."We have paychecks all made out for about 125 employees in there. I hope they didn't burn," he said. "At least, nobody was hurt."
Two engines and eight firefighters from Carson City responded initially, before off-duty personnel were called in.
According to fire Capt. Bob Schreihans, an engine was also requested from Douglas County, but wasn't used.
"We had to call in for mutual aid because we don't have enough people here to fight a fire this size, if it had gotten out of control," he said.