No Charges Against Man Blamed for Washoe Valley Fire That Destroyed 29 Homes

Washoe Valley Fire Photo courtesy of Rick Cooper
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RENO, Nev. (AP) - Washoe County prosecutors say they won't press charges against the Washoe Valley man whose improper disposal of ashes caused the fire that destroyed 29 homes last January and was blamed for the death of a 93-year-old woman.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Kristin Erickson said in a memo released Tuesday she doesn't believe 58-year-old Lyle Teuscher committed a crime.

District Attorney Richard Gammick backed her conclusion the fire was accidental in nature.

Teuscher told investigators he disposed of the ashes in a metal trailer outside his home about four days before the fire began. Whipped by wind gusts approaching 80 mph, the blaze quickly spread across five square miles just south of Reno. The lone victim, June Hargis, lived near where the fire broke out and died of smoke inhalation.

Here is a statement from Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez:

"The Reno Fire Department’s report on the Washoe Drive Fire was comprehensive and conclusive. The report was completed and released in April 2012. Since that time, the Reno Fire Department has not been asked to provide any further information or conduct any further investigation. Our department will always cooperate with any agency and will continue to assist with any follow-up if asked. It is important to remember the fire department’s responsibility is to determine the cause and origin of the fire and our investigators did just that. The determination of whether a crime has been committed falls to law enforcement agencies."