A year ago, when the doors of the new student center first opened, in came firefighters, not students.
On Friday, some of those same firefighters will gather in front of the Joe Dini Jr. Library and Student Center, where they once caught rest and showers, for the dedication of a stone fountain.
"It's made out of rocks. It's in front of the library. It's a waterfall. That's why it's so perfect," said Ann Hansen, director of information and marketing for Western Nevada Community College.
At the dedication, Carol Lucey, president of WNCC, is scheduled to speak. The event begins at 3 p.m. in front of the main entrance to the Joe Dini Jr. Library and Student Center.
"The gentleman who donated the fountain, (Dustin) Rand was working on campus last summer as a contractor building rock walls for some of our campus improvements," Hansen said. "He got the idea to design the fountain for in front of the library. When it came, Dr. Lucey looked at it and said 'It's a waterfall and we should name it the Waterfall Fire Fountain.'"
The Joe Dini Jr. buildinghad not yet opened when firefighters were battling Waterfall. But after they helped keep the blaze away from the school's Cedar Building and Jack C. Davis Observatory, WNCC officials wanted to show them thanks.
"Once we knew the campus was out of danger of being burned, we opened the brand new center and offered it to the firefighters to take showers and recreate," Hansen said. "We also let them use the parking lots as a staging area for their vehicles. It was a good staging area because it was close to the fire, but it wasn't too close."
Members from the fire department, sheriff's department, board of supervisors, the Nevada Department of Forestry and other groups have been invited to the dedication.
It is because of the firefighting efforts that WNCC was protected from the Waterfall fire.
"For several days in a row, the fire came up close," Hansen said. "The first day it came from the King's Canyon area. It was the middle of the afternoon and the winds picked up. It just carried it very quickly toward the college. The next day it came around from the other end, from the west."
School was canceled for several days and WNCC's emergency management team, including Hansen, met at Carson High School to keep abreast of the fire and send out press releases. The team also kept close tabs at WNCC. It was particularly painful to watch the fire come so close.
"My heart was breaking," Hansen said. "It was a culmination of fear and just sadness. I kept thinking this is a community resource. We can't lose our community college."
The Cedar Building is one of the college's largest buildings and houses some of the school's most expensive labs and equipment.
"We were so concerned it was going to go," Hansen said. "It was miraculous that they saved it."
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.
What: Waterfall Fire Fountain dedication
When: 3 p.m. Friday
Where: In front of the Joe Dini Jr. Library at Western Nevada Community College, 2201 West College Pkwy.
More information: Call the President's Office at 445-4450.