62.1 F

Fundraiser set up after arsonist burns down home


A house fire can happen at any time. For Karina Rios, it occurred in the middle of the night when someone set a fire near her home. 

On Sunday, July 16, at midnight, Reno firefighters responded to a call at 501 Kohlepp Ave., where Rios and her 10-month-old son were living. 

Rios and her neighbors in the duplex had to evacuate their homes. Thankfully, she said, no one was hurt. Her son Ky was staying at her mother’s house that night.

“I was sleeping at home, and around midnight a friend that was sleeping over at my house woke me up and alerted me that the abandoned house directly behind mine was on fire,” Rios said. “I got up and frantically went outside and called 911 when I noticed two of my neighbors were trying to put out the fire using their water hoses.” 

Rios said she also started to help with her garden hose, but after five minutes, they were having no success. 

Rios said the heat was getting unbearable. They had to walk away.

Rios said her neighbor spotted the person who had started the fire trying to run away as the fire continued to burn. With that, Rios said she ran after the suspect and kept her restrained until the police arrived. 

“I chased her down the street as she tried to run away, and once I got her, we waited until authorities got there,” Rios said. “In a matter of five minutes, we saw the duplex was completely on fire, and we really couldn’t do anything but wait.” 

Rios said Reno Police arrived first and arrested the suspect. Firefighters arrived next and put out the fire.

Reno fire investigators have charged Leanna Esteinou, 35, with one count of first-degree arson. All duplex residents had to be relocated due to the damage from the fire.  

“By this time, it was 2 a.m. I went inside, and everything was either gone or had heavy fire or water damage,” Rios explained. 

She and her son had just moved into the duplex about four months ago, and Rios said a lot of the things she lost were new and or part of the room she’d recently set up for her son. 

“Luckily, we’re alive, but starting over is going to be hard,” she added. 

A GoFundMe has been set up for Rios and her son to help them rebuild and find a new place to live. 

Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez
Mark was born in Mexico, grew up in Carson City, and has recently returned to Reno to continue to explore and get to know the city again. He got his journalism degree in 2018 and wants to continue learning photography for both business and pleasure. Languages and history are topics he likes to discuss as well as deplete any coffee reservoirs in close proximity.