"I'm really happy I didn't vacuum before it happened," said Kathy Hughes shaking her head at the blackened interior of her Indian Hills home Saturday.
She and husband Paul returned home Thursday night to find smoke billowing from the house they've owned on Amador Circle since April 1999.
They said firemen did an amazing job preventing the house from burning down. But the interior was black with smoke damage, the furnishings destroyed and insulation from above the shattered ceiling strewn across the floor.
She climbed across the wreckage to pull a blackened rectangle off the fireplace mantle.
"Look, this was your diploma," she told Paul.
Amazingly, as they peeled away the cover, the diploma was still there.
"It's a little frayed and smoke streaked," said Paul. "But it's there. Awesome."
She said they'll probably spend the next week picking through the house to reclaim family albums, mementos and other treasures.
"The basic structure is still standing but it pretty much coated everything we own with black soot," he said.
Kathy said she was grateful neither of them nor their animals were hurt. She found the dog that night hiding in the spare room of the house.
Paul, who works for AT&T Wireless, said the insurance company estimates it will be four to five months before repairs are completed.
The couple says they've had some wonderful things happen in the wake of the fire.
Even as they battled the blaze, she said the firefighters hauled Christmas gifts and other things out of the house and into the garage to protect them.
"They were great. And the neighbors were great," she said. "Several offered us places to stay and so many people called up and offered to help."
Paul said his bosses have also been very understanding, giving him several days off to take care of insurance and other matters and setting up a bank account at Nevada National Bank so co-workers and friends could help them out.
Dianne Humble-Fournier, who sits on the General Improvement District board in Indian Hills, said a number of neighbors have called to ask how they can help.
"We're going to put out a newsletter here too," she said. "They have insurance but, at this time of year, who has extra money in their bank account to buy new clothes and other things."
Fortunately, said Paul, they are able to stay in his stepfather's Carson City home for the time being.