Fire leaves Mark Twain man homeless
June 1, 2003
A Mark Twain man was left homeless when the house at 132 Ring St. house burned Saturday afternoon.
Homeowner Guy Outland, who received second-degree burns to his right arm fighting the fire, watched from the street as smoke billowed from his caved-in roof.
Outland, who has lived in Mark Twain since the mid ’80s, said he tried to douse the blaze with a garden hose.
“I tried to knock it down but the wind was too strong,” he said.
The fire, which started around 1:15 p.m., had collapsed most of his house in an hour. In the back yard, live power lines were left in the trees after burning way from the house. A swimming pool ladder stood alone over the remains of an empty above-ground pool.
The fire appears to have started when someone was burning weeds and the fire got away from them, said Central Lyon County Fire District Chief John Gillenwater.
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“That’s the theory we’re working on now,” he said.
Gillenwater said didn’t know who was burning weeds.
Neighbors said they were worried about Outland’s four dogs. He owns bird dogs — a brown Chesapeake Bay retriever and three English setters.
“As far as I know they’re OK,” said Outland while a firefighter with a hooked pike pole walked the remains of his roof.
Later his next-door neighbor of 13 years, Shelley Fleming, said two were missing.
“We’ve got two who are still unaccounted for,” she said. “You can replace a house, but his dogs were like his children.”
Fleming said she would offer Outland a place to stay for the night.
The neighbors across the street said it’s not the first time Outland has had trouble with burning weeds.
About two years ago Outland had a smoldering pile of weeds along his fence line, Mark Womer said.
“The whole neighborhood was filled with a thin smoke,” he said. “The fire department emptied a 20,000-gallon tanker on it.”
This time Womer was working in his computer room when smoke came in the window.
“It smelled like he was burning weeds or something, which I thought was pretty foolish in this wind,” he said. “I looked over there and saw flames licking over the roof top, but I thought he was burning weeds so I just closed the window to keep the smoke out.”
The dispatch call went out at 1:20 p.m. for a brush fire, Gillenwater said. When his crew arrived on the scene they upgraded the call to a one-alarm structure fire, which calls for three fire engines. Later the call was upgraded again to a two-alarm fire. In the end five engines and three tenders responded.
Central Lyon County Fire District crews, who serve eight different areas, were doing swift-water rescue training on the Carson River at the time of the call. Volunteers from all eight areas, including Sutro, Mound House, Dayton Valley, Dayton, Mark Twain, Stagecoach, Silver City and Silver Springs, responded. The Storey County Fire Department and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management also responded to the scene.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.