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Fire damages home of Heidi Fleiss

Heidi Fleiss had her plans for Thanksgiving all mapped out.

"Just stay at home, with no phone calls, and play with my birds all day, and not work. That was my plan," she said.

Those plans fell apart in a hurry.

About 7:30 a.m., after the former "Hollywood Madam" went outside to let one of her 20 exotic birds "go poo," she smelled smoke in her Pahrump home. She ran on the roof with a wet towel and began beating back the flames that sprung from the roof of her aviary.

But the bamboo structure was like kindling, and she didn’t stand a chance, she said. So she ran back inside and began rescuing her birds.

The blaze destroyed the aviary and about a quarter of her manufactured home, but Fleiss and her birds escaped unharmed.

Many of her possessions might have been destroyed, however.

"Everything I have is so unrealistically expensive," she said by phone, her birds squawking in the background. "My stupid leather coats, you know, from Holly­wood. All my stuff is so expensive, but it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that my birds are OK ."

No damage estimates were available Thursday.

Firefighters from Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue extinguished the blaze, which Fleiss attributed to sparks from a chimney that didn’t have a spark arrestor. She said she’s used the chimney before and never had a problem.

Chief Scott Lewis said investigators also suspect that to be the cause of the fire. It took his crew 22 minutes to extinguish the blaze.

Fleiss’ exotic birds were still distraught Thursday afternoon.

"They’re still flying around. They’re not sure what’s going on," she said. "They just want to go in their home, that’s all."

She’ll be staying in her guest house with her birds.

"I will not leave them, and I’ll stay in the guest house while we rebuild here. There’s no way I will leave them when they’re traumatized," she said.

She has owned her home for two years, spending her time with her birds and maintaining the Dirty Laundry coin-operated laundromat in a busy Pahrump shopping center.

Fleiss, who won worldwide infamy in the early 1990s for running a ring of high-priced call girls catering to the stars, moved to Pahrump in 2005 to open a brothel catering to women, but the plans never came to fruition.

Since moving to Pahrump she hasn’t stopped making news.

In September, then-Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett passed out in a car in front of her house.

Fleiss, fearing the person in the car was a stalker, called police. Beckett was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

She said her Thanksgiving morning could have been much worse.

"I guess there’s a lot to be thankful for today," she said.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

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