Fire destroys Virginia City home

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VIRGINIA CITY -- The home of longtime Virginia City resident Vonell Hess, 78, was destroyed by fire about 9:35 a.m. Thursday. The fire was caused by a defective hot water heater gas valve.

"She was in the shower when she heard a pop in the hallway," said Storey County Fire Chief Gary Hames. "When she opened the hall closet, it was filled with fire and smoke. She ran out of the house."

Hess was treated for minor burns. She will be staying with family in Virginia City, according to Hames.

Located at 416 F Street, the 1950s single-wide mobile home was considered a complete loss after flames leaped through the roof and blew out windows and doors.

Two engines and a water tender from Storey County Fire Department responded to the 911 call and the fire was out within 14 minutes, according to Hames.

"The initial attack team knocked the fire down quickly," he said. "I was really impressed with our staff. They did an incredible job."

Of the 13 firefighters on scene, only five were permanent staff. The rest were volunteer firefighters, he said.

Hess was able to grab her purse, which contained financial necessities, but most appliances and other fixtures melted when the fire "flashed over," Hames said.

Volunteer Fire Chief Joe Curtis returned with Hess later and the two retrieved some important papers and valuable personal effects. He described Hess as shaken but otherwise fine.


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