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Residential sprinklers save couple’s home

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Gardnerville residents Yolanda and Gilbert Dayao have the dubious honor of being the first Carson Valley residents to find out if residential sprinkler systems work.

They learned Tuesday morning their system works when grease from the shrimp Yolanda was frying in the kitchen ignited.

“When she told me she was frying with oil, I thought half the house was gone,” said Gilbert. “The sprinkler system is well worth it.”

East Fork Fire Capt. Terry Taylor said the Dayao’s Merino Circle home is one of 20 in Carson Valley that are outfitted with sprinkler systems. The systems are required in larger houses that aren’t near water supplies for firefighting.

Taylor said Tuesday was the first time one of the residential systems was activated, and it worked.

“Basically, the system knocked the fire down,” he said. “Without it, the fire would have gotten into the attic and we would be sawing the house to pieces.”

Yolanda said she was standing at the stove when the oil ignited. She threw a towel over the flames, then called Gilbert, who was at work in Carson City. The sprinkler system activated within three minutes, she said.

As soon as Gilbert learned of the fire, he told Yolanda to leave the house and he called 911. Firefighters from Ruhenstroth, the Ranchos and Gardnerville began arriving eight minutes later.

Yolanda and the couple’s two children, Leanne, 4, and Kyle, 2, waited at a neighbor’s home while firefighters, electricians, building officials and carpet cleaners inspected their home. Leanne clutched the doll she saved as soon as her mother told the children to leave. No one was hurt.

“It’s a mess, but I’m glad everyone is OK,” said Gilbert.