Recovering After Sun Valley Fires

By: Denise Wong Email
By: Denise Wong Email

RENO, NV - "As you come out, right here on Fourth Avenue, you'll see poles that are leaning. They look like they are about to fall. All the sheathing is cracked off and they're droopy," says Bob Clarkson, who stands in what's left of the home he built six years ago off Flora Way in Sun Valley.

Today, he's looking closely, at the power lines. Investigators say, on June 18, one of them sparked and combined with the winds, ignited an inferno that destroyed more than just his home.

"We lost both our dogs which are like family to us. We buried them in the compost," he says.

Moving on hasn't been easy for this father of four young boys, whose ages range from 14 years old to 19 months.
Clarkson, who's a contractor, lost all his tools in the fire. His wife, as well.

"My wife was a glassblower. Her glass shelf was here. We lost all that," says Clarkson.

Today, his oldest sons are helping him shovel through the mess and look for anything of sentimental value.

"I mean, I had a lot of cool stuff in my room so I just think it's all gone. And I want to try to find as much as I can," says Ben Clarkson.

Bob Clarkson doesn't want any more families to experience this kind of devastation. That's why he's trying to get the word out to others in the community - to pay attention to their power lines.

"The biggest message I want to get out to the community, especially in Sun Valley is to go outside and look at your power poles and the transformers. And if the poles are leaning, if the lines are sagging and cracked. If the transformers look old and tired, call your power company - and have them come out and fix it," he says.

An elderly couple lived next door and they also lost their home. The man who lived there served three tours in Vietnam and turned 81 years old last week. Friends have set up accounts for both of the families.

If you would like to donate to the Clarkson family, head here:

If you would like to donate to the Washingtons who lived next door, you can head to any Bank of America branch. Ask for the Othello & Hazel Washington Account.

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