Man claims fire accidentally started; police question how |

Man claims fire accidentally started; police question how

F.T. Norton, Tribune News Service

A man four-wheeling in Voltaire Canyon claimed his truck backfired and ignited a blaze Monday afternoon that swept through the valley just southwest of Carson City. But police are questioning his story.

As of 7:30 p.m. Monday, fire officials said the burned area was 35 acres and 80 percent contained. Crews were expected to remain on site all night to mop up.

Damon Smith, 38, of Carson City told Carson City sheriff’s deputies he was in the hills behind Casino Fandango in his Mazda pickup when the fire started about 4 p.m. after his truck backfired.

“He said he tried to put it out. He poured his iced tea on it,” said Sgt. Mike Cullen.

When he failed to extinguish the fast-moving blaze, which also caught his truck on fire, Smith told deputies he raced down the hill and was attempting to get help when the truck exploded, Deputy Jarrod Adams said.

After looking at the charred remains of the truck, sheriff’s investigators are questioning whether that story is true.

“The known details warrant that this incident requires further investigation,” said Sheriff Kenny Furlong.

The bed and interior of Smith’s truck, which had expired plates and was registered to an unidentified woman, was burned. The hood and engine had minimal fire damage.

Smith complained of mild burns to his hands, Cullen said, but refused to go to the hospital. He was treated at the scene by paramedics.

He was taken into custody on two Lyon County warrants and was being held in the Carson City Jail.

Firefighters from Carson City and the Nevada Division of Forestry and prison crews from the U.S. Forest Service responded to the blaze, which is on land managed by the Forest Service. Crews from Lyon County, East Fork and Genoa were on standby.

Two helicopters, a heavy air tanker and about 92 people fought the flames as a west wind blew them up the canyon.

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