Fire destroys family home in Dresslerville
May 24, 2005
DRESSLERVILLE – A family home where generations of children were raised was burned to the ground Tuesday by a possible arsonist, leaving a father and his four children homeless.
“It’s really unfortunate,” said Karey Salle, cousin to John Koos, whose two-bedroom home was lost. “(John) doesn’t know what to do. We’re just glad nobody was burned.”
A fire alarm was broadcast about 2:45 p.m. that a house at 828 Washoe People Way was completely ablaze.
The fire was extinguished within 45 minutes of firefighters’ arrival.
Neighbor David Lester James, 40, of Gardnerville was arrested on a charge of arson and booked into Washoe County Jail.
“We believe it was intentionally set,” said Capt. Terry Taylor, inspector/investigator for the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District. “But we haven’t completed the investigation yet.”
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A search for a 16-year-old boy, who was thought to be in the home, was fruitless. Salle said he was later found with friends in Carson City, trying on tuxedoes for prom.
“The whole family was in tears,” she recalled. “We didn’t know what was happening. The scanner said someone was trapped inside.
“We were so relieved to find him.”
Salle said the home was moved to Dresslerville from Gardnerville about 40 years ago.
It was there that Koos’ mother raised her children, then Koos’ sister raised her family in the house.
“It’s gone through several generations of our family,” Salle said. “Then it was passed down to him, and he was raising his kids in it.
“It had a lot of history. Now we lost it.”
Firefighters from the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts, the Gardnerville Ranchos Volunteer Fire Department and the Ruhenstroth Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire.
As soon as the fire was extinguished, three firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the home to start to look for the missing teenager as neighbors looked on.
Earlier, firefighters had ripped loose boards from the attic window to reach flames behind them. At 4 p.m., an awning caught fire and had to be torn down. Firefighters carried a charred plastic laundry basket and a stack of books from the home.
“It’s pretty much destroyed,” said East Fork Fire and Paramedic Chief Tod Carlini.
There was a small dog hiding in a woodpile next to the house. Neighbor children attempted to catch it, but it escaped.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office was at the scene to investigate the fire.
Although Salle said the family is mourning the loss of the home, they will rally in support of Koos.
“We’re just going to plan on rebuilding for him,” she said.