Bittersweet celebration for family that lost home |

Bittersweet celebration for family that lost home

Karl Horeis
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal John Staub, left. his daughter, Lindsay, and wife, Judy, listen to the tribute to the firefighters. Their Kings Canyon Road home was lost in the Waterfall fire.

Optometrist John Staub saw the small wildfire from his Kings Canyon house on the morning of July 14.

“I said, ‘Well, this will be out by 10 o’clock. Let’s go to work,'” he recalled, standing with a group of friends at the thank-you barbecue for firefighters Sunday.

He watched the fire grow from his office that morning.

“I made it until about 11:30, when I figured I wasn’t getting much done at work, and I decided to go back up there.”

Despite fire crews using two full engines of water to defend it, within hours, the Staub house at 3666 Kings Canyon Road was destroyed. They were able to tow a water-ski boat and remove a few truckloads of belongings before the fire swept through.

“When we left, the trucks were no more than a quarter full,” said his daughter, Lindsay, who helped with the evacuation. “We had more room and we knew what we wanted to take, but we ran out of time.”

John pulled out of his driveway as firefighters pulled in. Flames were already 35 feet from the house.

Since then the family has been reeling.

“You spend the first week playing ‘woulda, coulda shoulda,'” said John.

But now it’s time to move on, he said.

“Now we’re going to go forward – to start thinking about what we’re going to do.”

Despite losing her house and so many of her belongings, John’s wife, Judy, feels blessed.

“There have been a lot of blessings,” she said. “The support from our friends and the community has been incredible. That’s what I’m going to remember from this crazy fire is just the people. We have not been alone this whole time.”

The Staubs stayed at their daughter’s home for a while then moved into a guest house at a friend’s residence.

Their closest neighbors’ homes were all saved, bringing to mind the fickle nature of fire.

“You wonder how that could happen,” John said. “You wonder, how does nature pick?”

The Staubs laughed and smiled while talking with friends at the barbecue Sunday, but some of the oldies songs were a little too upbeat to match their mood.

“This is an event I probably wouldn’t have attended if I hadn’t been burned out,” said John. “I probably would have said, ‘I have something more important to do.'”

After everything, John Staub is left with a new respect for wildfire.

“I’m amazed that they ever put a fire like that out,” he said.

His wife agreed.

“Before, I used to think firefighters were pretty incredible people. Today I just want to go up and hug them because I know what they go through firsthand.”

The Staubs built their home on Kings Canyon Road in 1977, moving in two years later. Over the years, John planted about 60 trees. He’s not sure he’ll have the energy to go through that again.

“We started with all sagebrush, and now we’ll have all sagebrush again,” he said.

“Black sagebrush,” added his wife. “Black dirt.”

But with all the community support and a strong connection to the area, the Staubs are staying in Carson City.

“There’s a 50-50 chance we’ll rebuild (at the same site) but my practice is here – this has been home for a long time,” John Staub said.

Contact Karl Horeis at or 881-1219.