Posted by: SWL | November 21, 2011

Caughlin Fire: Reno Suffers Another Tragedy

Reno, Nevada

Reno Arch on Virginia Street

The Reno area has been hit with a string of tragedies this fall:
* On September 6, a gunman walked into an IHOP restaurant in nearby Carson City and shot at patrons having breakfast. Four died and the gunman shot himself.
* The next week a plane crashed into the viewing stands at the Reno Air Races, killing the pilot and 11 spectators. More than 70 others were injured. The remaining days of the races were cancelled.
* The week after that, during the annual Street Vibrations motorcycle rally, a shoot-out between two motorcycle clubs occurred in a Sparks casino. (Sparks is a city adjacent to Reno.) One participant was killed and two wounded. The rest of the event was cancelled.
* On November 12, local sportscaster J.K. Metzker was struck by a hit-and-run driver after a University of Nevada, Reno football game. He died the following afternoon.
* Very early this past Friday morning, winds from an approaching storm caused power lines to arc, starting a fire in the hills of west Reno. The strong winds – gusting regularly to 50 miles per hour – took the fire further into the urban area. Residents of some 4500 homes had to evacuate for over 24 hours. Twenty-nine houses were destroyed or burned to the point of being uninhabitable. Burned homes were scattered in small groups along the eastern edges of the fire. One man died of cardiac arrest while being evacuated and a fire fighter suffered severe burns.

The community has pulled together each time, supporting victims and responders. One of those injured in Carson City was National Guardsman Caitlin Kelley. The fragility of life became a stark reality to Kelley and her long-time boyfriend, so they decided to get married. The news brought a deluge of donations from area businesses, creating a beautiful wedding on October 23. Kelley in turn gave back by asking that, instead of gifts for her, wedding guests donate to a fund for children of the Guardsmen killed at IHOP.

Besides the emotional toll, the area has sustained financial losses from the cancellation of the Air Races and the motorcycle rally. There have been questions about whether the Air Races should be held again; crashes in recent years have killed other pilots. Economic hardships throughout the community can make it more difficult for citizens and businesses to provide assistance to victims. Fortunately that does not seem to have happened yet. But how much trauma can one community absorb?

If you would like to provide assistance for this latest emergency, you can donate to the Northern Nevada chapter of the Red Cross:
* http://www.nevada.redcross.org/Home_Page.php (secure site)
* (775) 856-1000
* American Red Cross, Northern Nevada Chapter, 1190 Corporate Blvd., Reno, NV 89502.

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