A home in southeast Carson City was severely damaged Thursday when a fire, started by smoldering wood pellets, ripped through a back wall and into the living area.
"I was going to the bathroom when the smoke started pouring in," owner Robert Machado said. "I grabbed the dog and got out.
"The smoke got so thick so fast, I was thinking 'What the hell is going on?'"
Machado said he lives in the home at 2605 Silver Sage Drive with his mother, who was not at home.
The fire was reported at 3:18 p.m. by a neighbor who saw smoke billowing from a pile of rubble in the back yard. The wood pellets, which appeared to be nearly a foot thick at the fire's epicenter, can spontaneously combust, Battalion Chief Richard Chrzanowski said.
"The wood pellets appeared to be degraded," he said. "In that situation, spontaneous heating can occur."
Neighbor Cindy Ceragioli lives directly behind Machado's home with her 6-year-old child. She said the previous night, smoke was coming into her home but she thought it was from a wildland fire burning near Truckee.
"It got so bad around 11 p.m. that I took some allergy medicine," she said. "When I got home (Wednesday) around 7:30 p.m., I could smell smoke."
Chrzanowski gave a preliminary estimate of $60,000 damage. He said without further investigation, he could not say if the home can be salvaged.
Two fire crews and a command unit were at the scene of the fire.
A neighbor whose identity is unknown attempted to help Machado extinguish the flames with a garden hose, Chrzanowski said. The man suffered slight burns to his face. Language difficulties prevented investigators from getting more information from the man, Chrzanowski said.
A fence that separates Machado's property and Ceragioli's property was also burned. The fence is 25 feet from where the fire is believed to have started.
Machados said he had been working on the house, trying to clean up the rubble that had accumulated in the back yard. A dumpster-load of trash was removed from the home last week.