Minden traffic stalled by fire | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Minden traffic stalled by fire

by Scott Murphy, Tribune News Service
Belinda Grant/Tribune News ServiceMore than 60 firefighters battle a blaze Tuesday at the Carson Valley Motor Lodge in downtown Minden.

A fire blackened the sky Tuesday morning as it destroyed much of the 76-room Carson Valley Motor Lodge in downtown Minden.

More than 60 firefighters from throughout Northern Nevada battled the fire, which was reported about 8:45 a.m. after CVI employees saw smoke.

The fire’s cause was unknown, said East Fork Fire Chief Tod Carlini. No major injuries were reported, although at least one firefighter suffered a cut.

The fire also snarled Minden traffic for about six hours Tuesday.

No damage estimate was determined.

An investigation into the fire’s cause was under way even as the building continued to smolder, Carlini said.

The fire began in the building’s attic, located between the building’s roof and its motel rooms, Carlini said.

The fire worsened about 10:30 a.m. when the motor lodge’s roof began to burn, Carlini said.

As the building’s roof began to burn, the fire produced large clouds of thick black smoke visible throughout Carson Valley.

Carlini said the roof’s collapse was caused by firefighters’ inability to locate the fire’s starting point to douse the flames.

The fire started in the lodge’s attic, between the second floor rooms and the roof.

“We just could never get in front of (the fire),” Carlini said.

Before the roof became engulfed, Carlini said firefighters were removed and the fire department’s tactics changed.

By that time, ladder trucks from Carson City and Tahoe-Douglas had arrived and were attacking the fire with water hoses from above the building.

Carlini said the two additional units were essential in controlling the fire and keeping it from spreading to the building’s eastern part.

No flames reached the converted brick house that serves as the Motor Lodge’s registration office.

Also, the neighboring Carson Valley Inn hotel and casino building was not affected by the fire.

The fire initially consisted of a steady stream of smoke plumes that emanated from the building’s second floor.

Shifting winds moved the smoke through downtown Minden as fire crews continued to arrive on the scene.

Firefighters continued to battle the blaze and combat flare-ups throughout the afternoon.

Deputies and fire crews were expected to remain throughout Tuesday night to preserve the investigation scene.

The lodge has been closed since Nov. 25 after being re-opened for Thanksgiving weekend, said Carson Valley Inn Finance Director Steve Chappell.

Renovation work was being done on the lodge between its closure Nov. 4 and re-opening for Thanksgiving weekend, Chappell said.

The lodge’s staff, which numbers fewer than 12, are working at CVI and will not be laid off.

The lodge was opened in June 1994.

Chappell said CVI’s insurance agents were already on the scene and rebuilding will begin as soon as possible.

“We don’t want to waste time,” Chappell said. “Time is money.”

Douglas County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Biaggini said staff from the county jail were used to help keep traffic flowing through town.

Also, starting about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, traffic on Highway 395 between Highway 88 and Mono Avenue was diverted to County Road and 10th Street, said Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Phil Shemick. Most of NHP’s Carson City troopers were called to Minden to help with traffic.

Emergency Services Director Dick Mirgon said an excavation device to remove rubble and debris from the fire was en route Tuesday afternoon.

The machine was being provided by a contractor’s association, Mirgon said.

Volunteer firefighters from throughout Carson Valley also worked on the motor lodge fire and Carlini said stations were manned and other calls were answered throughout the morning.

Tuesday’s fire was the largest commercial structure fire in the Town of Minden or Gardnerville since a January 1995 fire destroyed the Coventry Cross Thrift Store and East Fork Gallery.

However, a Sept. 17 fire at Depressurized Technologies Inc. near Airport Road killed one man, injured four and set off numerous explosions.

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