Memorial Day a quiet one in Douglas County |

Memorial Day a quiet one in Douglas County

by Merrie Leininger

It was a quiet Memorial Day weekend for local law enforcement and fire officials.

Deputy Fire Chief Steve Eisele said he was the duty chief on call all weekend, so he can attest to how quiet it was.

“We had the usual medical aids and a group of juveniles who started a small fire in the Ranchos Sunday when they were playing with matches,” he said. “Other than that, there were no major car crashes or anything. It was pretty quiet. I’m glad. I was praying to the fire gods. It’s shaping up to be a big fire season.”

Three local volunteer stations did respond to help the Smith Valley Volunteer Fire Department with a structure fire about 1/2-mile south of Wellington on Old Ranch Road.

Two crews from Topaz Ranch Estates, one from Topaz Lake and one crew from Ruhenstroth volunteer departments, responded to the structure fire that also caused about an acre of pasture land to burn, said SVVFD Chief Bill Park.

He said the fire started about 12:30 p.m. Monday and investigators have determined it ignited in the garage and was electrically caused.

The 2,500 square foot home lost the roof, the garage and the rear of the kitchen, Park said. The volunteers managed to save a lot of the residents’ personal possessions and no one was injured, Park said. He could not give the names of the homeowners.

Park said Smith Valley residents came forward with a place for the fire victims to stay Monday night.

Park said the firefighters remained on scene until about 8:30 p.m. cleaning up the fire.

– Arrests. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office also reported a quiet weekend.

Sgt. Lance Modispacher said arrests were normal for the weekend. He said nine people were arrested for DUI, and 11 separate alcohol-related arrests were also made. Ten domestic violence arrests marred the weekend and six people were arrested in drug-related incidents.

Patrol Lt. Michael Biaggini said he knows it was slow because he was not called out to help patrol deputies.

“It was the usual crowded start to the summer, but there were no major incidents that occurred,” he said.

– Topaz Lake Park. Eisele said one camper was bitten by a rattlesnake this weekend and he warned that the incident wasn’t the first bite this summer.

“People need to be aware. We had one in TRE and another in North County somewhere, but they’ve been spotted all over. They are coming out with this early hot weather. People should watch were they put their hands when gardening,” Eisele said.

Park Ranger Don Swan said he has been working at Topaz Lake for nine years and cannot remember having more problems with rattlers any other summer.

“We have already killed four and relocated one. Just the day before, I had to go to a campsite and get one out. So far, they have all been little babies, which are the worst kind because they don’t have rattles,” Swan said.

He said a man from Reno was bitten on the hand about 5 p.m. Friday because he was “messing around with it.” Swan said the man had to be CareFlighted because he didn’t think a small rattlesnake would harm him enough to go to the hospital.

“He thought he’d be OK. An hour later, he came up to us and his hand was black and swollen,” Swan said.

He said the man was treated and released that night.

Other than that incident, Swan said the weekend was fun for all at the lake.

“It was totally packed. It was very busy,” Swan said.

He said the camp has 69 developed sites and an overflow area that probably held 80-100 vehicles during the weekend.

He said the campers had fun on jet skis and swimming in the water, which is on the rise because of snow runoff.

“The water is really starting to come up and everyone had a good time. A lot of people were out swimming,” he said.