Reese struggles to regain bearing after losing family home to fire

Gary Reese admits he has trouble driving a nail and sawing a board straight. But he was proud of every inch of the family home outside Panaca that a brother and nephew built.

Reese planned to spend a lot more time there after his term as a Las Vegas City Councilman ends on June 15. He’s a Lincoln County country boy by birth and spirit, and mornings in the Meadow Valley Wash area of Nevada are filled with scarlet sunrises and the scent of alfalfa and sage.

“I was kind of a maintenance man for them,” Reese said. “They did the real work. I’m no good at it. I’d sweep up after them. They let me pound a few nails in the floor upstairs because it was going to be covered with carpet.”

Now the six-bedroom place built by family hands is gone. It was destroyed by fire Saturday. No one was injured in the blaze, and its cause remains unknown. Two fire inspectors and one insurance adjuster were at the scorched scene Tuesday.

Life around Panaca isn’t what some folks consider exciting or glamorous, Reese said, but he loves just getting out and walking in the countryside, shooting his guns and riding an ATV.

For his part, Reese said he’s still having difficulty believing the house is gone. The home was a metal building with a wood-framed interior. Next to it was a large garage in which the family stored its tractor and ATVs. The heat from the flames was so intense that the metal framework buckled, and the ATV engines melted, Reese said. He also lost a stockpile of ammunition.

Approximately 3 miles outside Panaca, the home was completed nine years ago. In casual conversation at City Hall, Reese often has talked about being eager to get on the road to spend the weekend at his place in Panaca.

“It’s like I told my wife. I feel like I lost my best friend,” Reese said.

The experience reminded Reese of the inherent goodness of his neighbors. Shortly after dark smoke filled the sky, seven volunteer units from Panaca, Caliente and Pioche rolled toward the scene. From 50 to 70 volunteers fought the blaze, Reese said.

“It says a lot about that community up there,” he said.

The fire destroyed more than a peaceful retirement home.

“I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since it happened,” Reese said. “I don’t know what to do. I want to go and visit, but now I’ve got no place to stay.”

GOODMAN’S LIFE: Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman might be a lame duck, but he’s still enjoying himself.

Goodman this week entertained the models from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

“I was just with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit girls,” he said Thursday. “How could life get any better?”

Goodman isn’t shy about stumping for wife Carolyn, who is competing to succeed him.

ST. BALDRICK’S: The annual St. Baldrick’s Foundation childhood cancer research fundraising head shave-a-thon is set for March 5 at McMullan’s Irish Pub and Nine Fine Irishmen, and once again my daughter Amelia will do the honors on my noggin.

Thanks to the folks at Gilligan’s Hide Away, 2601 Atlantic St., for their generous contribution. To make a donation, contact me at the newspaper or go online to

ON THE BOULEVARD: In a case that has to be close to setting a longevity record, ousted Crazy Horse Too topless club mogul Rick Rizzolo is scheduled to return to U.S. District court Tuesday on a potential parole violation. … Mayoral candidate George Harris held a campaign kickoff Wednesday night at his Mundo restaurant downtown and drew more than 200. Political skeptics will argue his supporters turned out for the appetizers of executive chef Robert Solano.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? E-mail comments and contributions to or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at

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