Once the smoke cleared, all was OK | NevadaAppeal.com

Once the smoke cleared, all was OK

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal Bob Anderson holds his 3-year-old granddaughter Madison Anderson at their home on Linehan Road in Mound House, after returning Wednesday. Anderson and his family evacuated their property Monday evening after the Linehan Complex fire threatened their Victorian home built in 1876.

MOUND HOUSE – Madison Anderson ran up the brick walkway of her grandpa’s Linehan Road home Wednesday with her little arms extended for a hug. The birthday girl was going as fast as her 3-year-old legs would take her.

Bob Anderson scooped up the diminutive blonde.

“Hi, baby,” he said, as Madison hugged his neck tight. “Isn’t this great to have a home to come back to?”

Mound House families evacuated by the Linehan fire Monday returned Wednesday in a welcomed rainfall to find every home still standing. Amid 4,500 acres of scorched wildland, the odds weren’t in their favor.

Cari Anderson didn’t expect to come out unscathed. But she did.

“As I was driving out of my driveway (Monday) I looked behind me and saw 30-foot flames. I thought, ‘We’re gonna lose the house,'” she recalled Wednesday in her untouched kitchen. “I just left and said ‘God be with you all.'”

For two days the Andersons positioned themselves on Highway 50 East so they could see the rooftop of their Victorian home built in Carson City in 1876 and moved to Mound House in 1971. Bob Anderson said he was sure he saw it on fire.

Then he gestured toward blackened sand and sagebrush that stopped 50 feet short of his fence.

“Good God, look what they’ve done. It’s just fabulous. These firemen should be commended,” he said.

Every chance he got, he did just that. He shook hands with Central Lyon County firefighter Brett Larkin.

“Thank you ever so much for the work you’ve done here,” Anderson said.

Larkin smiled politely and apologized for cutting Anderson’s fence.

When a fire truck drove past, Anderson raised his hand and yelled out to the driver.

“Thank you, young man!”

Another resident realized he was grateful for more than just his house being saved.

He said he had toiled for two years to create his oasis at the highest point on McClellan Peak Road, and in the last two days had resigned himself to the assumption that it was lost.

“I thought for sure it would be a pile of ash,” he said.

But on Wednesday, he found everything where he left it. Save one new detail, it was all covered in red fire retardant dropped by bombers in a successful effort to save his home.

He didn’t complain. He enlisted the help of a friend, and with pressure washer in hand, the two set out to scrub away the goo from buildings and vehicles.

It wasn’t long before a fire truck ascended his driveway. Firefighters Grahame Ross and Cory Cupp and Silver City Volunteer Fire Chief Kip Allander pulled out brushes and hoses.

“I can’t believe it,” the homeowner said. “They came to clean up the borate.”

Allander said it was all part of the job.

“We (bomb) the house to make it easier to defend, and we clean up because we already have all the equipment. So really, the job’s not done, until this is done,” he said.

The man was stunned at the service.

“I mean, they already did enough,” he said.

Several Mound House residents said they heard the lightning strike that ignited the brush Monday.

Mitch Layman said the crack of the strikes shook the windows of his house at Lemon and Linehan roads.

He said he called his wife, Sue, at work and she rushed home from her job at Carson City Family Dentistry. On the way, via her cell phone, Sue Layman told her husband to mow around their house to improve their defensible space, and when she got home she’d gather “photo albums and of course the animals” for evacuation.

When she pulled up out front, Mitch was on the mower, and the hill in front of her house was ablaze. The hill beside it was, too.

The couple filled their jeep and realized they hadn’t yet gotten a hitch for their newly purchased motor home.

Sue’s boss, Joey Crawford, drove up from Carson and hitched it to his truck. They lived in the Crawford yard for the two evacuation days, Sue said.

From there, they called their son who is in the U.S. Marine Corps in Twentynine Palms, Calif., and also received a phone call from friends in Alaska who heard about the fire.

For a while the couple was able to drive up Linehan and get close enough for a glimpse of their home. But that ended shortly when the fire and smoke became too much.

Just after noon on Wednesday, Sue and Mitch got their first look at all that was left.

“We’re so grateful to the fire department for our house,” she said. “Our house is still OK.”

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.