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North Valleys man loses home for third time

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 2:48 AM PDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 9:04 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - June 27, 2020 will be a date Steve Schwartz remembers for the rest of his life.

This is the Poeville Fire on Peavine Mountain as photographed by the Washoe County Sheriff's Office RAVEN helicopter.
This is the Poeville Fire on Peavine Mountain as photographed by the Washoe County Sheriff's Office RAVEN helicopter.(WCSO)

"I just saw my life flash before my eyes," he said. "It's over. I have nothing left."

For the past 22 years Schwartz called his 1,200 square foot house near Peavine Mountain home.

"I'm just totally devastated. I don't even know if the insurance is going to cover any of this or not."

The on-call field service tech was on the phone with his neighbor looking at flames on top of a hillside behind his house. The blaze was part of the Poeville Fire. At the time Schwartz didn't realize where he stood would be gone in a matter of minutes.

"The Washoe County Sheriff's Department knocked on my door and told me I had two minutes (to leave). The fire was here and I needed to get out."

Schwartz grabbed what he could - clothes, his laptop, and toiletries - items he needed to just get through the day.

He's had to do it before. Twice. A different fire nearly took his first home. The Reno flood of 1997 claimed his second. But the third time was different.

"This is worse by far," he recalled. "It's total devastation. There is nothing left. It's just a pile of ash. That's all there is."

There are items that Steve can buy again: a bed, and electronics are just a couple. But sentimental heirlooms cannot be replaced. He just finished restoring a cart from his ancestors two weeks ago. Now, it's almost unrecognizable.

"The hardest part is knowing I can never get any of this back," he said.

Artwork from his great uncles, models that took years to build, and more than 10,000 professional photos on a hard drive are just some of the belongings Schwartz will miss the most. To those who haven't gone through what he's gone through, he says this:

"It's basically having their entire life ripped away from them with no outcome for the future in sight."

How someone can overcome three irreplaceable losses in their lifetime is hard to imagine. Having those by his side also keeps him going.

"Friends and family are pretty much all I have left right now."

Schwartz has had a lot of memories in the Peavine Mountain area. He’ll no doubt make new ones wherever he goes next.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Schwartz recover from this disaster.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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