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17 dogs die when foreclosed homeowner sets fire to house

<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - The Dream Chaser Ranch Horse Rescue on North Murphy Street was severely damaged after it was reportedly set on fire by its former owner Friday.</p>

Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - The Dream Chaser Ranch Horse Rescue on North Murphy Street was severely damaged after it was reportedly set on fire by its former owner Friday.

A fire that sent one person to the hospital and claimed the lives of 17 pets on North Murphy Street Friday evening appears to have been intentionally set by the homeowner, according to a preliminary investigation in the case.

Pahrump Valley Fire Rescue Services were requested to respond to the Dream Chaser Ranch Horse Rescue, located at 3610 N. Murphy St., just after 9 p.m., for a report of a structure fire.

The ranch, owned by Diane Davis, was recently sold at public auction on June 27 after it was foreclosed upon for unpaid debt.

Fire Chief Scott Lewis said the incident began earlier that evening when Nye County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the location for a call for service and soon after had a fire situation requiring additional resources.

“There was a police action that occurred at that residence and turned into a fire incident. So it was initially a sheriff’s office issue that turned into a fire issue,” Lewis said.

When firefighters arrived, heavy fire could be seen coming from within the home. Crews had trouble gaining access to the interior of the residence, however, as the entrances had been barricaded by personal property within the structure.

“Crews tried to make entry, but found that the entrances were blocked using household materials as barricades so they couldn’t get in,” the fire chief said. “They also found an overabundance of personal property stored inside, so it was an extraordinary fire load we think.”

Lewis said a preliminary investigation shows that the blaze was likely intentionally set.

“The investigation revealed, and it’s underway still, it’s not finished yet, but it indicated (it was) an intentional act,” Lewis said.

Once firefighters were able to gain access to the interior of the home, they reportedly discovered 17 dogs dead in the home.

One person was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene before being transported to Desert View Hospital for further care.

No other injuries were reported from the incident.

Sheriff’s Capt. Bill Becht declined to comment on his agency’s involvement in the investigation. He said the incident was a medical issue and therefore no further information would be released at this time.

Nye County Animal Control was also reportedly on scene that evening to collect several horses and other animals found unharmed on the property following the fire.

Though the blaze was extinguished Friday evening, local firefighters were requested to respond to the property a second time Saturday morning after the overabundance of materials in the home re-ignited.

The single-story structure sustained significant damages between the two fires, leaving only what appeared to be structural support beams on nearly three-fourths of the home.

As of Tuesday morning the incident remained under investigation.