'Probably a miracle': Remains untouched in funeral home fire
Sarah Litz, email@example.com 12:41 p.m. PDT September 24, 2016
Sparks firefighters battle a fire that broke out on Friday afternoon at Walton's Funerals and Cremations on Sept. 23, 2016. Andy Barron/RGJ
(Photo: Andy Barron/RGJ)
Less than 24 hours after Walton’s Sparks Funeral Home was destroyed in a fire that swept through the building, talks of rebuilding were taking place.
Walton's Funerals and Cremations general manager Rick Noel said the plan to rebuild was being discussed, but the owner would make the final decision.
“This funeral home has been in the community for 44 years,” Noel said. “It’s helped a lot of families through the years deal with loss. A lot of meaningful memories have taken place here.”
The building, located at 1745 Sullivan Lane in Sparks, was deemed a “total loss," according to the Sparks Fire Department.
At 3:55 p.m. Friday, the Sparks Fire Department responded to the fire. According to a news release from the fire department, the first arriving officer reported there was a fire on the outside of the building, and it moved into the eaves.
Noel said that he was thankful no one was injured in the fire. All people were out of the building when crews arrived on scene. According to Captain Sean Holbrook with the Sparks Fire Department, one person that worked at the funeral home was treated for smoke inhalation by REMSA, but was not transported to the hospital. There were no injuries to firefighters.
"Looking at the devastation, we're so thankful because our number one concern was that our employees were safe," Noel said. "They were safe, and they were unharmed."
Noel said the second concern was for the remains of two bodies inside of the funeral home. According to Noel, the fire didn’t burn near the remains.
"Both of the deceased persons were completely safe, and there was no damage to their remains," Noel said. "It was unbelievable. (It was) the way that the fire came into the building, and the area that (the remains) were in. They weren't affected."
"The path the fire took, it just didn’t touch them. It's probably a miracle, but it's true," Noel said.
Noel said the families of the deceased were contacted, and the remains were moved to the Family Care Center.
A Friday fire caused extensive damage at Walton's Funeral Home in Sparks. Andy Barron/RGJ
Noel said that he was not able to comment on the cause of the fire because it remained under investigation.
“There’s just so many unknowns right now, and that’s the thing,” Noel said. “The rest is really just waiting. Everything is being worked on diligently.”
Holbrook said fire investigators with the Sparks Fire Department would be looking into the incident.
“Initially they’ll start by talking to everyone involved,” Holbrook said. “Then they’ll look at the burn patterns on the building and see if they can find where the fire started.”
Holbrook said investigators will look for any other evidence including lighters, matches or accelerants - such as fuel - around the area.
“(The fire) started on the outside,” Holbrook said. “There were juniper bushes that could have acted as an accelerant. This is a good reminder to everyone to keep bushes trimmed back and remove juniper away from homes. They burn really hot, and it’s a really oily bush.”
According to Fire Battalion Chief James Reid, investigators said there were no other chemicals inside of the funeral that would be different from any other house.
"We didn't hear anything about chemicals when we were there," Reid said. "We fought it as a normal structure fire. That was not a concern to us."
Holbrook said fighting conditions were dangerous for personnel.
“The building was very dangerous,” Holbrook said. “The roof was collapsing, so because of that, we avoided putting people inside.”
Sparks Fire responded with 27 personnel, and the Reno Fire Department provided an additional 16 personnel. NV Energy, TMWA and the Sparks Police Department also assisted at the fire scene.
"There was just a lot of help from a whole lot of people," Reid said. "That truly helped."
SPARKS, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Firefighters battled a fire at a funeral home near the intersection of Oddie Boulevard and El Rancho Drive in Sparks on Friday.
Crews responded to Walton's Funeral Home and Cremation Center in the 1700 block of Sullivan Lane at about 3:55 p.m.
When they arrived, firefighters saw there was fire on the outside of the building and moving into the eaves, according to a news release from Battalion Chief James Reid with the Sparks Fire Department. They also learned that everyone was able to make it out of the building.
REMSA paramedics evaluated one civilian, Reid stated. No firefighters were injured.
Chemicals inside the building may have been making firefighting efforts more time-intensive, police said.
Officials said 27 personnel from Sparks Fire and 16 personnel from the Reno Fire Department helped with the firefight. They added that Reno Fire and Storey County also provided engines to cover calls within the city of Sparks during the incident.
Reid said the building is a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Funeral home manager Rick Noel said the owner has not decided yet whether to rebuild.
Noel said the fire did not burn near the remains of two bodies that were inside at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
OSHA Regulations that Affect Funeral Homes
- Provide injury and illness information which is used by OSHA to measure and direct the agency's efforts
- Enable employees and employers to identify types and causes of injuries and illnesses at each establishment
- Make employers and employees more safety conscious
- Encourage employee and employer cooperation
- Select and have each affected employee use PPE that will protect from the identified hazards
- Inform each affected employee of the selection decision
- Select PPE that properly fits each affected employee
- Document that the hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the date(s) of the hazard assessment
- Action level: Airborne concentration of 0.5 parts per million (ppm) formaldehyde. If this level is exceeded, the employer must perform periodic air monitoring until the levels can be reduced below this point (29 CFR 1910.1048 (b))
- PEL: Airborne concentrations of 0.75ppm formaldehyde as an 8 hour time weighted average (29 CFR 1910.1048 (C)(1))
- STEL: Airborne concentration of 2ppm formaldehyde over a 15 minute time interval (29 CFR 1910.1048 (C)(2))
Glutaraldehyde, which is not covered under a specific OSHA standard, is still a hazardous material with established exposure limits. NIOSHs recommended exposure limit (REL) for glutaraldehyde is a ceiling limit of 0.2 ppm. This exposure level should not be exceeded at any time.
Another organization that establishes chemical exposure limits is the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). The ACGIH has reduced their ceiling limit to a more conservative level of 0.05 ppm (Additional information on glutaraldehyde awareness is available on Quick Tips #174.).
- Is the chemical a flammable or combustible?
- Is the chemical a corrosive?
- Does the chemical need to be stored at a temperature other than ambient?
- Is the chemical an oxidizer or reducer?
- Is the chemical light sensitive?
- Does the chemical require any special handling procedures?