SILVER SPRINGS - A faulty propane regulator on a water heater is to blame for an inferno Sunday that destroyed a doublewide mobile home, leaving one man homeless.
The fire, which began about 3:30 p.m., was fueled by at least three propane tanks that exploded.
"Somehow or another, the regulator failed and the fire probably started with the pilot light from the water heater," said Mary Ellen Holly, Central Lyon County fire inspector. Holly said witnesses reported the home was gone within 10 minutes of the first sight of flames.
Dwain Smiley, who rented the home from Malcolm Seibert, was not home at the time. Holly said Seibert has fire insurance on the mobile, but Smiley did not have any insurance on his belongings. Everything inside the home - plus two cars in the driveway - was lost.
At least three neighbors and two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, including the woman next door who ran over to the home believing someone was still inside.
"We heard a hissing sound and then like a rumbling," said Lori Henderson, who lives on the left of the property in the 3700 block of Amber Way. The hose that connected to the propane tank had come off and was spewing gas, she said.
"When we looked, we could see the back side was on fire, so I ran around to the front to knock on the door - I was afraid someone was in there - and when I did the door opened and the house was already full of flames," she said.
Lothar Ihrck, who lives with his wife on the right of the property, pointed to damage on his garage where the heat had melted the siding and busted a window.
Ihrck said he knew there wasn't anything he could do for the home next door so he set about to try to prevent the flames from spreading to his house.
"The walls started to get pretty hot on my garage so I sprayed on the side of it and my wife used the hose to put out the fire on the fence posts. These walls here were so hot you couldn't touch them," he said patting his garage.
Holly said Smiley had moved into the home about two weeks ago.
Engines from volunteer fire departments in Fernley, Silver City, Silver Springs, Stagecoach and Mark Twain responded, as well as a unit from the Central Lyon County Fire District and two ambulances.
"All the propane was gone from the three tanks so that definitely fueled that fire. That house was gone in 10 minutes," Holly said.