Hot water heater may have ignited fire that gutted east Carson home |

Hot water heater may have ignited fire that gutted east Carson home

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppeaA Carson City man's home was destroyed by fire Wednesday on Bel Aire Way that possibly started with the explosion of the hot water heater.

Investigators suspect a fire that gutted an east Carson City home started in an exterior cabinet that housed the hot water heater.

Rescuers were called out to the double-wide mobile home at 2811 Bel Aire Way at 1:18 p.m. Wednesday. By the time crews arrived, the rear of Andy Willner’s home was engulfed in flames.

Mary Olfshefski said she, her husband Robert and 5-year-old grandson were next door to Willner when they heard an explosion that shook their house.

“By the time my husband got outside, flames were just flying everywhere,” she said.

Willner told her that he was inside his house in his bedroom watching television, when the explosion happened.

“He grabbed up what he could grab up and went out the back door. When he came out of his bedroom, the whole back porch was on fire,” she said.

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While her husband used the garden hose to wet down the fence that divided the two properties, Mary collected up her dogs and grandson.

Elaine Brown, who lives in the house on the north side of Willner’s, said that as soon as she saw flames, the firefighters were there.

“They were here really fast, like within two minutes,” she said.

Her father, Sam Lewallen, said he always worried that if Willner’s property caught fire, it would jump over to his land because of the overgrown brush in the front yard.

“It wasn’t very well maintained,” he said.

Assistant Fire Chief Tom Tarulli said the Red Cross was called on to assist Willner. The initial investigation determined the blaze began on the outside of the south face of the home. The explosion was believed to have been the hot water heater bursting, crews said.

Capt. Phil Hernandez said the back bedroom and porch were destroyed and the remainder of the home suffered extensive smoke damage.

A shed next to the home was also destroyed.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.