New Year’s weekend fires show importance of safety precautions

New Year’s weekend fires show importance of safety precautions
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 9:38 PM AKST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2023 at 10:28 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Two major residential fires happened in Anchorage over New Year’s weekend, and while the Anchorage Fire Department says that while these fires were not started by fireworks, they are stark reminders of the importance of fire safety precautions.

Assistant Chief Alex Boyd says AFD responded to a fire on New Year’s Eve at a house near the intersection of West 100th Avenue and Olympic Drive in Anchorage’s Bayshore-Klatt neighborhood in which one person died.

“Crews arrived on location and found the home to be halfway involved in fire, to where fire had control of half of the building” Boyd said.

Initial reports said someone inside the home was unaccounted for. Boyd says firefighters went into the structure as far as they could — to the point where their gear no longer protected them — but were unable to locate anyone. Later, however, firefighters found the remains of the missing person on the side of the home that had been engulfed by flames.

“Investigators have concluded that that fire was likely caused by improperly handled or disposed of smoking materials,” Boyd said. “There is no evidence that there was a smoke alarm in the building, which would have alerted the occupant of the fire.”

Boyd says the second fire call, which occurred on New Year’s Day, was a response to a structure fire on Ermine Street in Northeast Anchorage. At the time of the fire, witnesses reported hearing glass breaking and seeing smoke coming from the building. Firefighters rescued one person known to have been in the home who sustained serious injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“Origin and cause of that fire has been determined by investigators to be a isolated incident, and it appears the fire was started by the victim of the fire.”

Boyd also said there were other occupants inside at the time of the fire, but they were able to escape on their own.

“Early escape from fires, early notification that fire is there and handling of ignition sources — like smoking material and heating sources — is a very important part of maintaining fire safety is ensuring that those possible ignition sources are controlled and managed,” Boyd said.

AFD reminds residents of the importance of having working smoke alarms in case of a fire, as well as establishing and practicing a family home escape plan.