Ash and debris fell on several northeast Carson City and Mound House businesses Monday night, but many said that was the worst they got of the 5,000-acre blaze that scorched right up to property lines.
The flames melted and curled the blue and white plastic strips that are part of the fence surrounding Jeff Kyle's 330 storage units.
"It's business as usual, other than we're a little dirty," he said early Tuesday morning outside the front gate of his 6300 Highway 50 East business. His driveway is marked by the tire treads of emergency vehicles that used his driveway to turn around.
His front gate is damaged, but that was caused by a person with chain cutters, not fire. He doesn't know who did it, possibly the sheriff's department or fire crews. The gate has an emergency key entrance, but someone wanted to get in badly enough to cut the chain that opens and closes the gate. No storage units were broken into or damaged, he said.
While he walked to the back of the property, where the fence was scorched, Kyle passed a customer who showed up early to check on his unit. As the customer slid the door up, soot stirred in the air.
"Sorry about that," Kyle yelled to the customer. "It's like that in all the units."
The north and east boundaries of his property are blackened by the fire. Sagebrush are mowed down and a few of Kyle's favorite olive trees are scorched.
"It's all minor damage considering what went on last night," he said.
Clayton Homes also had a close call. The fire line is only a few hundred feet away, across from the 10020 Highway 50 East business. Ross Shelton, a housing consultant, and his wife, Brenda, patrolled the north boundary of the property, which is flanked by manufactured homes, with hoses late Monday night.
"We have a home on Linehan Road, so we couldn't go back home last night," he said. "I think my home's OK because my answering machine continued to answer. We called it all night long because we didn't know what was going on."
The hoses were still stretched out in the back of the Clayton Homes office. Firefighters posted up in the parking lot routinely came in to use the office bathroom, which Shelton was happy to offer. He pointed out the location of his house, a green strip of land between two burnt hills. He and his wife spent the night at the City Center Hotel.
In Aug. 4, 1994, their home in Rough and Ready, Calif., burned in a wildfire similar to this one, he said They've lived in Mound House for about seven years.
"This is the first time we've had a fire that's been close enough to evacuate," Shelton said.
Just a little way down the street is Carson Highlands Storage, managed by Bev Cumley, who was still jittery after a night of confusion. She lives at the 10010 Highway 50 East site.
"My boss told me to take the PC and the cash and to pack three to four sets of clothing," she said after opening the office at 9 a.m. "It got us right to our fence. We were lucky. I was so scared. I didn't know what to do. I headed to Dayton, but I don't know why I went there because there's no motels there. So I called my boss and she advised me to go up through Virginia City and come around. So I called my friend who lives near the college and she said I didn't even need to ask if I could stay with her."
Since opening the office, Cumley's phone has been ringing incessantly. She's taken a few calls, but said she can't handle talking to everyone right now. She cupped her hands over her face and fought back tears.
"And I don't know how to get the computer started again," Cumley said.
Skip Parker, of Carson City, moved his Roamer pop-up camper out of Carson Highlands on Monday night and returned it Tuesday morning.
"It was hard to tell exactly where the fire was at because of the ash and smoke. You could tell it was somewhere on the other side of the hill," he said, while pointing to a small hill north of the 750-unit complex.
The $23 million Harley-Davidson Financial Services office building was far enough away to be out of danger, yet provide an impressive view of billowing smoke and an advancing fire line.
"From what fire crews have told us, with the golf course there, we're in such a place with our building that we're not in danger," said Donal Hummer Jr., Harley-Davidson Financial Services community and government affairs vice president.
Several hundred feet of noncombustible landscaping surrounds the 100,000-square-foot building on Technology Way, off Arrowhead Drive. Many industrial buildings on the drive had close encounters with the approaching flames.
Some employees watched the plume of smoke from the large back window on the third floor.
"I'd rather have this than hurricanes," said Kim Carrubba, manager of community and government affairs, while looking out the back window at the smoke in the distance.
Eagle Valley Golf Course had several players still on the course as the fire ate away at the cheatgrass on the hills behind them.
"We had golfers golfing until about 6 p.m., then we had to evacuate," said head professional Josh Fitzgerald. "We had no damage. Just to the sagebrush."
He said the fire got within 300 yards of the green on the east side of the course, and within one mile of the green on the west side.
The fire did not jump to the south side of Highway 50 East, where Pick-N-Pull is located near the county line.
"There's too much asphalt in front of us, we're not going to burn," said manager Norma Bartoli. "At least I hope not."
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.