Man tried to save his home | NevadaAppeal.com

Man tried to save his home

Rick Gunn/Nevada Appeal Doug Kelly surveys the rubble of his destroyed home in Kings Canyon. He was on of 15 to lose their homes in the Waterfall fire.
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Doug Kelly’s bandaged hands tell the story of his failed battle to save his home from the ravaging blaze of the Waterfall fire.

“Everything’s pretty much totaled,” he said, standing amid the rubble of his former house. “Our home is burned down. We weren’t able to salvage anything. We got out with our lives and that was about it.”

Kelly said he and his wife, Diane, had about 10 minutes to evacuate as the fire approached their property at 4340 Kings Canyon Road.

His wife grabbed photo albums and sped away. He tried to follow in his truck, but couldn’t.

“You couldn’t see anything,” he remembered. “It was just flaming debris and tons of flying limbs. The trees were engulfed in flames.”

Instead of driving down the canyon, he took refuge on a knoll above the house with the air conditioning turn up all the way. During the worst of the fire storm, he estimates temperatures reached about 380 degrees Fahrenheit.

“You couldn’t touch the glass on my truck,” he said. “It was too hot. Winds were about 200 miles per hour.”

When his view cleared, he was relieved to find his house still standing. However, when he approached it to inspect more closely, he realized the other side of it was starting to burn.

He grabbed the garden hose and began spraying but by the time he doused one flame, another ignited.

He said a fire engine came to assist but was out of water.

“The firemen were great,” he said. “They did everything they could.”

He watched in horror as his 5,200-square-foot house was consumed in flames.

“The firemen gave me a big hug,” he said. “They were very sorry they couldn’t save my house.”

His was among 15 homes lost in the Waterfall fire that burned 7,600 acres in west Carson City.

Later, acting Fire Chief Stacey Giomi paid the Kellys a visit. Neighbors have also come to their aid, especially the Eldridges and the Scheers. A work day is scheduled with friends and family Saturday to clean up the debris to begin the process of rebuilding.

Amidst their grief, Kelly said they have also been grateful to many people, including their insurance company, Liberty Mutual.

“They’ve been so forthcoming,” he said. “They’ve done an absolutely beautiful job.”

Describing the loss of his home and treasured antique HO Train collection, the Gaming Control investigative agent remained stoic.

However, his voice broke as he told of the Sheriff’s Mounted Posse who drove a truck and trailer into the inferno to transport his two paint horses, Regal and Midnight, to the pens at Fuji Park.

“They risked their lives to save my horses in the midst of all those flames,” he said. “Pretty gutsy.”

Benson’s and S&W feed stores donated temporary fencing until the corrals can be rebuilt.

The first day he returned home, he said, wild canaries followed him from fence post to fence post.

“They were so hungry. They didn’t have any food,” he said. “There’s nothing left.”

Benson’s Feed donated grain to feed to the quails and the two yellow bird feeders, which now hang from a scorched birch tree in front of the charred home.

His wife lost all of her tack and original horse paintings and he lost the train collection he’s been building for more than 40 years. They had just completed the landscaping two weeks ago around the home they built in 1992.

“The first few days are depressing,” he said. “But you try to be brave.”

And his courage is turning to resolve as he focuses on starting over.

“We’re just going to move forward,” he said. “It’s gone. You can’t do anything but rebuild it.”

Contact Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1272.