Fire destroyed a home early Saturday evening in Mark Twain, an unincorporated community about six miles northeast of Dayton on Highway 50. The residents of 155 South Rainbow Drive apparently were not home when the fire was noticed by neighbors and reported about 6:30 p.m. Central Lyon County Fire District firefighters were still at the scene at 10:30 p.m. and an official report on the blaze was not yet available, according to a Lyon County dispatcher.
A report that the fire started behind a dryer and spread through the manufactured home could not be confirmed Saturday.
Besides the home itself, at least one car, a boat and the boat's trailer were destroyed by the fire. The home's propane tank reportedly also exploded when the fire reached it.
Three men who described themselves as neighbors said they attempted to quench the fire with garden hoses. When it became apparent they were losing ground, they said, they pushed three vehicles from the home's driveway and away from the flames before firefighters arrived 10 or 15 minutes after the fire was reported.
As the rescue vehicles approached the fire scene, dispatchers were asked to send more law enforcement personnel there to control traffic. Vehicle traffic was heavy and interfering with access to the burning home, according to dispatch radio calls. Responding deputies included at least one from Storey County. The traffic problems did not extend as far as Highway 50, which is a quarter to a half a mile to the north, according to a Nevada Highway Patrol dispatcher.
"We're all very upset because the fire department was so slow," said one of the neighbors, Troy Nezos. "We need a town meeting or something about this fire department problem."
He said one of the fire trucks hit one of the homeowner's vehicles as it arrived at the fire.
Another neighbor who identified himself as Jack M. said, "If something happens out here, you might as well just watch it burn, because the fire department is just way too slow."
The three men said they knew the home's occupant as "Tom the hay man," because he owns Dayton Valley Ranch Supply and delivers hay throughout the area. The wife was described as a rural mail route driver.
Fire protection in the area is provided by the district's mostly volunteer firefighters. A few full-time firefighter/paramedics are stationed at the district's firehouses scattered along Highway 50.
Fire district officials are preparing proposals that would increase fire district property taxes between 2 and 20 cents per $100,000 of assessed valuation, which would add from two to 22 additional paid staffers.
The district's staffing of volunteers, like many volunteer fire departments, is also hampered when volunteers who have received months of expensive required retaining are recruited for paid positions at fire departments elsewhere.