Goni Canyon residents narrowly escape fire’s grasp
Appeal Staff Writer
When wildfire lapped at her door on Tuesday afternoon, elementary school teacher Jennifer Bailey and her family did what Mound House residents had done the day before – she packed up and fled.
“The firefighters pulled in my driveway and told me to evacuate,” Bailey said, and she drove from her McDowell Road home tucked against the west side of McClellan Peak in Goni Canyon.
An indecisive lightning fire that had threatened Mound House on Monday, kept Goni Road-area residents awake. In the morning, the worst looked to be over as the ridge above her home offered the occasional pathetic plume of smoke. By the afternoon, Nevada’s notorious winds went to work.
The flames shifted course and headed straight for the Bailey plot about 3 p.m. If the flames made a run down the hill, Bailey’s yellow, multi-windowed home would be first.
Her departure was more difficult than most.
On Monday night firefighters suggested she prepare to evacuate, so she gathered those material items her family found irreplaceable and piled them at the door.
But Tuesday, as her husband, Chuck, rushed home from work, her brother and friends helped her gather the rest – three horses, three fish, one bird, one dog, one cat and four kittens, one of which she called “Sweetie.”
“Once this morning hit, it sure looked like it wasn’t doing anything,” said Bailey, mother of Lauryn Kelsey and Tristin.
The neighborhood on the east side of Goni Road had kept vigil over the smoldering fire all night.
Neighbor Chuck Roberts agreed with that assessment. He said his wife checked outside every half hour. He admitted neither of them slept well.
Otis Clamp, Bailey’s father-in-law and neighbor above her, said his wife, Betty, was nervous as well.
“She was a basket case,” he joked. Clamp was sitting atop a quad at 8:30 p.m., watching the crews stationed below at his children’s home, and casually glancing at the ever-growing wildland fire some 600 yards from his driveway. The winds were blowing southeast by then, away from his property. The hope was the fire would run into some of the nearly 6,000 acres scorched the day before.
“I think we’re OK with this machinery we got here,” he said, nodding toward two dozers in his driveway and fire engines below. “Shoot, I ain’t worried about anything.”
Denise and Jerry Anderson knew what the day before had offered. They were among dozens of Mound House homeowners who fled the wind-boosted flames on the east side of McClellan.
Fire crews fought a winning battle in that instance. Not one home was lost, though charred ground reached a few of the fences.
The Andersons on Tuesday stood in that charred space outside their own fence and watched as spot fires threatened more homes west of Linehan Road.
Denise said when she saw the fire Monday she was out front honking the horn for Jerry so they could leave.
“But Jerry, he’s a citizen!” she shouted, laughing at the recollection.
“He put the ladder to the roof for the firefighters and made the gates easy to open.”
Turning to look at the blackened sand at her feet and her fence mildly scorched, Denise’s mood changed a bit.
“They earn all their pay,” she said of the firefighters. “They earn every bit of it. To think, there was not a home lost.”
— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.