East Valley family displaced for holidays | RecordCourier.com

East Valley family displaced for holidays

by Jo Rafferty

An East Valley family will spend Christmas in a hotel after a fire Tuesday afternoon gutted the garage of their home.

The owners were home when the fire started in the garage at approximately 3 p.m., according to East Fork Fire and Paramedic District Chief Tod Carlini.

The nearly 5,000-square-foot house at 1768 Watson Court, owned by David and Leesa Malm, was saved just in the nick of time, said Fire Capt. Terry Taylor.

On Wednesday, Taylor said the gas and insurance companies were at the home trying to take care of everything as quickly as possible. The Malm family will have to stay at a local hotel for about a week until the house is safe.

“Everyone’s pulling together to try and get them in the house as soon as they can,” said Taylor.

No one was injured in the fire, which started when a heat lamp that was left on in the garage ignited paper and other items being stored in there, Taylor said.

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“(David Malm) observed the fire coming out of the outer garage,” said Taylor. “It’s an accidental fire as far as we’re concerned.”

The semi-attached garage, connected to the house by a roof over a breezeway, was in flames when the fire department arrived, Carlini said. A stream of black smoke made its way over the mostly undeveloped land toward downtown Gardnerville.

Four fire engines, three water tenders and at least 40 East Fork firemen and paramedics were at the scene, in addition to Ranchos Fire and Rescue and Douglas County Sheriff’s Department personnel.

“This area doesn’t have fire hydrants, so we are pumping water from the trucks,” said Carlini.

Firefighters were on the roof of the garage, who appeared to be punching holes in it.

“We cut a hole in the roof to vent it so it wouldn’t go into the house,” said Carlini.

The flames had begun to point toward the attic of the house, according to Taylor.

By 4:50 p.m., Carlini said the fire was almost contained.

“We secured the utilities,” he said. “Now it will probably be a couple of hours of overhaul and investigation.”

Three construction workers, who didn’t want to give their names, were building a house nearby at the time the fire broke out. They said a little girl had come running out of the house yelling “fire.” After that there was a big explosion that shook the ground, said one of them.

When they heard there were two dogs and other pets inside the house, the workers said they ran into the house to get them out.

“Five or six guys were running through the house trying to chase them,” said one of the workers.

“We just did what we had to do,” said another.

— Jo Rafferty can be reached at jrafferty@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 213.