Fire destroys family’s Carson City home |

Fire destroys family’s Carson City home

by F.T. Norton

A Carson City family was still in shock Tuesday after a fire left them out in the cold the night after Christmas.

Tom Lopes, his wife Jeannette, son Ethan, 12, and daughter Kacey, 10, escaped uninjured.

Lopes said the blaze started when fireplace ash discarded in a plastic trash can in the garage ignited empty boxes from Christmas morning and quickly consumed the garage, their vehicles, Kacey’s bedroom and a guest room where the children played their music.

“We used the guest room for the kid’s music,” said Lopes, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “The violin, tuba, flute, guitars – all of that’s gone.”

Lopes said most of the Christmas gifts were destroyed.

“There’s not much that didn’t get burned because the kids’ presents were in their rooms, or in the garage,” he said.

Lopes said the fire was detected just before 10 p.m. Saturday while he was asleep.

His wife was watching television upstairs and the children were downstairs when Kacey noticed smoke coming in from the vents. Almost immediately, the smoke detectors blared, said Lopes.

Hours earlier, his wife had cleaned out the fireplace and put the ashes into a plastic can in the garage.

He said they were there for about nine hours before igniting. The fire was making its way into Ethan’s room before crews contained it. What didn’t burn was damaged from smoke or water.

“I don’t want to go in because it just smells so bad and the smell sticks to you,” Lopes said Tuesday as he sat outside in a borrowed truck while the fire investigator and the insurance adjuster went through his home.

The Red Cross stepped in and gave the family two nights in a hotel room. Lopes said his insurance adjuster arrived Tuesday and made a phone call to a rental home two doors down from the Lopeses’ home on Chaise Drive.

“They are going to try to put us up in there, which will be nice,” he said.

Fire officials estimated the damages around $200,000.

Lopes said the adjuster thinks it could be four months before the family can return to the home they’ve lived in for nearly 10 years.

“I can’t believe it happened,” said Lopes.