Mound House residents evacuated
Appeal Staff Writer
Lightning and winds played havoc in Northern Nevada on Monday starting at least 16 wildland fires, including three that forced dozens of Mound House residents to flee their northwest Lyon County neighborhood.
No homes were lost.
Patty Waller was among those desperate for information after flames from the 3 p.m. McClellan Peak fire raced across the open, federal land behind her home about 6 p.m.
“I had a dream last night about losing the house,” she said, crying and panicked. She was alone standing in the parking lot of the Mound House General Store after becoming separated from her family who took a different route to escape the choking smoke and flames.
Just 30 minutes earlier, Waller and house-mate Rob Brehm had enlisted the help of friend Chuck Roberts and his 10-year-old son Matthew to wet down the fence line and dried cheat grass behind their Mica Drive home.
The mood was light then as neighbors shared information and watched with mild concern as the blaze seemingly inched its way down the eastern face of the peak. The winds, however, were not cooperating. Before they could recognize things had changed – they had.
See video and photo slideshow of the fire:
In minutes fire licked at the rear of homes along Feldspar at Red Rock Road.
Richard Demuth said the excitement was too much for his wife, Donna. The couple had bought their Feldspar property that backs up to BLM just last year.
“My wife went into a panic,” Demuth recalled as he stood with others behind Walt’s Ya’ll Come Back Saloon off Affonso Drive. After the couple cleared out some items, Donna Demuth found herself unable to breath. Richard Demuth said Lyon County officers had to give her oxygen.
“When we left, that fire looked like it was almost on my house,” he said.
Demuth was relieved to see digital video of his home intact. The video also showed the earth charred just five feet from his fence.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I had a fire guy tell me it was lost.”
By 8:30 p.m., Waller and Brehm also knew they were OK. The duo had snuck up a back road for a peek at their place.
“We could still see fence standing!” Waller squealed.
Brehm was celebrating with a mug of beer.
“Hey, I waited until I knew the house was OK, then I had the beer,” he said.
Lynn Stewart who had packed up “my cat, two dogs, my pills and important papers,” before leaving, also knew by 8:30 p.m. things were OK.
She was worried still, however, about an elderly couple who lived a few doors down from her on Calcite.
“They’re both in their 80s and have all these wild cats so I don’t think they left,” she said.
Stewart did not need to worry. At Red Rock Road and Highway 50 East – in his 80s or not – the man she was concerned about was raising hell with deputies because they would not allow him to drive back to his home at 9 p.m.
It didn’t matter that half a dozen people told him his house was fine.
“How do they know? Is there someone on every house? Do you believe everything you hear,” he questioned. His equally skeptical and aged bride sat in the passenger seat, offering her reasons for going home. “We have cats!”
Eventually the couple learned their neighbors were at Walt’s and left.
Highway 50 East from Deer Run Road to Red Rock Road was blocked for about four hours as crews battled the flames that surrounded Carson Highlands Storage and touched the north edge of the highway. Reports that flames had jumped the four lanes were inaccurate.
The blaze also crept around the backside of McClellan Peak and was burning in Carson City behind Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. on Arrowhead Drive.
Carson City Sheriff’s Lt. Ken Sandage, law enforcement incident commander, set up base in the company’s parking lot.
“We’re holding in place and waiting,” he said. There were no crews working the Carson side of the fire at 10 p.m.
“We’re just here watching and waiting in case there’s a need for evacuating Goni Road homes,” he said.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 881-1213.