F.T. Norton, Appeal Staff Writer

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September 30, 2003
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Witnesses claim they saw man walking away from fire

Investigators questioned and released a Carson City man Monday after witnesses claimed they saw him walking away from a fire on Curry Street that scorched about 40 acres.

"There were conflicting stories. Witnesses saw two people near the fire. We can't locate the second person," said Sheriff Kenny Furlong. "At this point, we're not able to tie this man to the fire."

He said the unnamed 27-year-old Carson City man denied he was anywhere near the fire's origin in the hills on Curry Street at Koontz Lane.

Casino security manager Ted White said he was in the casino when an employee came in and said there was a fire.

When White looked out the door, he saw the man walking toward the casino.

"When I first saw him there were flames behind him," White recalled.

As he got on the phone to 911 he directed another security officer to keep an eye on the suspect, now "hunkered down beside the building watching the fire."

Crews from the Carson City Fire Department, Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, East Fork Fire Protection District, City of Reno Fire Department and Central Lyon County were able to contain the fire within 90 minutes, said Chief Dan Shirey of the Carson City Fire Department.

Its fury fed by a strong wind, the fast moving blaze came uncomfortably close to some homes on the Carson Indian Colony and businesses along Curry street.

"If it could have hopped Curry Street it could have been rather exciting for the auto dealers as well," Shirey said.

An air tanker, a helicopter and the dozens of hand crews scattered along the ridge were able to keep the flames at bay, preventing property damage.

The investigation into the cause continues, Shirey said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized funds to pay for 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting and emergency response costs.

The Curry Street fire came one week after a fire in Voltaire Canyon burned 80 acres. That fire was blamed on a mechanical malfunction of a truck four-wheeling in the brush.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Sep 30, 2003 12:00AM Published Sep 30, 2003 02:33AM Copyright 2003 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.