Karl Horeis

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December 19, 2003
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Firefighters save man, gun club

Carson City Fire Department paramedics saved a man's life Friday night after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a fire at the Capitol City Trap Club.

The fire started 4:30 p.m. when club members were frying turkeys for a Christmas party. Apparently grease from deep-fat fryers on the porch caught fire.

"My wife and I were in the kitchen when she said, 'Look, there's smoke coming through the door,' said club member Bob Gibson. "I opened the door and the whole porch was on fire."

One member grabbed a fire extinguisher while Gibson called 911.

The man who had the cardiac arrest, whose name was not released, was guiding firefighters to the ammunition when he fell to the ground.

"He was leading the firemen around to show them where the ammo was when, boom, he just went down on the blacktop," said Gibson.

"He collapsed right in front of the captain on engine one," said Battalion Chief Richard Chrzanowski.

The man's heart was not beating and he was not breathing when paramedics started their rescue effort. They used electric defibrillator paddles on his chest.

"In order to get a good save on an arrest like that you really need to have a defibrillator close by and that was the case tonight," said Captain Eric Bero. "And speed is of the essence."

He said in 20 years as a rescue worker he's never seen anyone come back so quickly.

"It's unusual to see someone respond as well as he did."

The man, a board member at the Capitol City Gun Club, was later talking to firefighters from a stretcher in an ambulance. He was transported to Carson-Tahoe Hospital in stable condition. His cardiac arrest appears to have been caused by the stress of the fire.

The fire burned the south side of the clubhouse near the kitchen. It burned through power lines above which provided power for the building.

Shotgun shells and smokeless powder are kept in the pro shop on the north side of the building.

"There was no danger of it catching fire - the fire didn't get anywhere near it," said club employee Aaron Kinney. The first thing they did when fire broke out was get everyone out of the building, he said.

The turkeys were being cooked on portable propane burners - two with 5-gallon tanks and one with a 9-gallon tank. The burned tanks were pulled away from the two-story, brown, wooden building after the fire.

Because of damage to power lines, Sierra Pacific Power employees disconnected the building from power poles, said Chief Chrzanowski. The clubhouse is rebuildable, but club members will have to call the city's building safety office to reconnect power.

"It's so terrible - we all came here to have fun," said club member Joanne Mastelotto. "We came to have our Christmas party. It's so sad."

Sixteen firefighters from the Carson City Fire Department responded in three fire engines, one truck, a squad unit, two ambulances and a command vehicle.

Both Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong and Undersheriff Steve Albertsen were on scene. Their deputies provided traffic control on Arrowhead Drive.

Douglas County Fire Department provided back up for Carson City during the incident.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported there have been 75 turkey fryer fires since 1998, 28 in 2002 alone. Safety watchdog Underwriters Labratories does not certify a fryer because of safety issues.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 19, 2003 12:00AM Published Dec 19, 2003 12:00AM Copyright 2003 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.