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Nevada begins picking up the pieces after storm causes fires, other emergencies

Kylee Mullen
Ames Tribune
Ames Tribune

It was all hands on deck for the Nevada Fire Department and Public Safety Department when a major storm tore through the city of Nevada, causing extensive damage, on Monday morning.

According to Fire Chief Ray Reynolds, the storm caused two house fires, a citywide power outage, various downed power lines, and left countless homes with trees limbs scattered in yards and on top of houses.

Reynolds said the city “recognized how bad this was all getting” in the late morning hours on Monday, and tried to be prepared by “basically calling out all the firefighters to the station, with our goal being to get them all out, get them all accounted for, and then we were going to start responding to any medical calls.”

However, the safety department quickly realized things were going to be a lot more difficult than at first thought. In addition to power being out throughout the city, the department’s new radio system was inoperable, and “dispatch could not talk to us.”

“We basically set up our own dispatch center at the fire station and we directed our folks out from there. And, during the time of the disaster, we had three significant medical injuries, and then we had a number of fires related to trees and power lines, and most of our roads were blocked by trees,” Reynolds said.

One of the first emergencies the department responded to was a car that had been trapped beneath power lines within the Nevada Fire Department district.

Then, while one of the department’s vehicles was still at the scene of the trapped vehicle, another truck driving through town saw a house on fire in the 600 block of E Avenue. The Nevada Fire Department responded.

“There was a lightning strike to the side of the house, which caused damage to the upper floor in a closet and the lower floor in a furnace room,” Reynolds said.

Homeowner Evan Maifield, as well as his dog, were not home at the time of the fire. Prior to the storm’s onset, he had been in Ames picking sweet corn, and later parked under an overpass when the storm struck. When he returned home shortly after the storm calmed, it was on fire, he told the Ames Tribune.

Reynolds said the crew returned to the fire station after the flames had been put out, and “our goal after the emergency had quieted down was to go out and assess our community and see how bad things were.” Crews were dispatched to different quadrants of the city to help residents pull trees from their houses and clear roads.

Then, the second fire call came in the 900 block of D Avenue.

The homeowner, who did not want to be identified, told the Tribune he was outside of his home picking up sticks and debris from the storm when he looked up and saw smoke coming from his attic.

Reynolds believes the fire was caused by a tree that had gotten caught in a power line and then fell onto the house.

The amount of damage caused by either fire is not yet known, but Reynolds said no injuries were reported from either fire call.

“It was definitely a crazy day,” said Reynolds, who added there is still a lot of work left to do as Nevada residents — as well as residents from throughout Story County — work to heal the damage caused by the storm.

Fallen trees continued to block a number of Nevada roads on Monday evening, and trees could also be seen on top of cars, houses and garages. Bent street signs, a fallen street lamp on Lincoln Way and crushed grain bins at Key Cooperative outside of Nevada could also be seen.

Reynolds said, considering all the damage, he is impressed by how well the community has stepped up to help one another — by pulling branches from the road, redirecting traffic around downed power lines and offering a hand wherever their neighbors need it.

“It’s a really resilient community,” Reynolds said.

Ames Tribune