Chollar Mine building burns

A historic building at the Chollar Mine in Virginia City was destroyed Thursday afternoon when a fire engulfed the structure.

Storey County Emergency Management Director Joe Curtis said the fire was 50 percent to 75 percent involved when firefighters arrived at 4:19 p.m. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.

The mine, which offers tours from April through October, was closed for the winter. The building that burned is where tourists obtain tickets and wait for the tour to begin. Curtis said the mine itself was not damaged.

He said the crews began attacking the fire immediately, but the structure was a total loss, along with many historical documents, photos and artifacts it contained. The fire was under control after about 45 minutes, he said. No other structures were threatened or damaged.

Curtis raised the fire emergency to second alarm, which brought in assistance from the Central Lyon County Fire District, the Silver City Volunteer Fire Department and the Reno Fire Department.

He said one firefighter injured his ankle while fighting the fire and was transported to an area hospital, where he was treated and released.

Curtis requested the state fire marshal investigate the blaze because the county's emergency responders were preoccupied with traffic accidents in the heavy snow and high winds. State fire officials were still on the scene Thursday night.

"Normally, I do the investigation, but we're pretty tied up, so I asked the state fire marshal to investigate," Curtis said.

According to Sgt. Jason Dias of the Storey County Sheriff's Office, the county had eight accidents related to the weather, none with injuries.

One incident involved the mine's owner, Chris Kiechler, whose vehicle was involved in an accident on Lousetown Road in the Virginia City Highlands about the same time the fire was being fought, Curtis said.

Curtis said fire crews had difficulty getting equipment to the fire because of the weather.

"It was getting colder and icy, and the crews from Reno had to stop and chain up," he said.


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