Fire claims shop at historic Quilici Ranch in Dayton
DAYTON – The century-old Quilici Ranch in Dayton lost its shop Sunday in a mid-day fire that took down the wood-and-tin structure.
Ranch owner Rita Selmi especially bemoaned the loss of a tractor, which stood torched inside what was the shop.
“It was one of our newer tractors,” said Selmi, a born Quilici.
No injuries were reported among ranch hands or firefighters, said Mary Ellen Holly, fire investigator for the Central Lyon County Fire Protection District.
Nobody apparently was in the shop when the fire was triggered by some unknown means a little before noon. Holly did not have an immediate cause.
“You never know in a situation like this,” she said while firefighters were still mopping up. “There’s a lot of fuel in there. There is wood work and welding equipment that could be suspect or have nothing to do with it.”
Selmi was visiting friends at another Dayton Valley ranch when she got a call that there was a fire at Quilici Ranch. She rushed home to find the shop on fire.
The shop was made of wood framing and corrugated metal siding along the walls and roof. The shop was attached to an older stone building that suffered some damage to the wood shake and tin roof.
The 535-acre Quilici ranch is a fifth generation operation that raises cattle and grows alfalfa. The ranch is now in calving season, Selmi said.
The Quilici and Minor ranches are the two remaining large-scale ranches in the Dayton Valley. The Herrmann Ranch became the Dayton Valley Country Club and the Rolling A Ranch is destined for housing development.
Luigi Quilici, Rita’s grandfather, established the ranch on the south side of the Carson River in 1881, at a time when Italian ranchers dominated Dayton Valley. The Quilici Ranch today has the longest continuous operation by one family.
Eighteen firefighters, including 14 volunteers, and seven firefighting units from the volunteer departments in Dayton, Mound House and Silver City responded as did the Nevada Division of Forestry’s Six Mile Canyon Fire Department.