UPDATE: Nome officials identify woman killed in Polaris Bar and Hotel fire

Bette Haugen was the sole fatality in the Polaris Hotel fire. Haugen, seen here, was...
Bette Haugen was the sole fatality in the Polaris Hotel fire. Haugen, seen here, was interviewed by KTUU during the 2008 Iditarod. (KTUU)
Published: Oct. 31, 2017 at 7:01 AM AKDT
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Nov. 2 Update:

Officials with the Nome Police Department have confirmed the identity of the woman killed in Tuesday's structure fire in Nome.

Bette Haugen, 63, of Nome, was found during a sweep of the burned down Polaris Bar and Hotel, authorities said. Officers with the Nome Volunteer Fire Department said that one person was unaccounted for before the body was located.

Haugen, who was sometimes affectionately called "Betty Boop" by friends and family, was well-known in Nome. KTUU interviewed Haugen during the 2008 Iditarod. "I'm lucky I don't have to work nights," she said then. "During this time, it's like a zoo."

Officials say next of kin have been notified.


At least one person has been confirmed dead after a fire destroyed the Polaris Hotel in Nome early Tuesday morning.

“There has been just one fatality confirmed, with the victim’s identity still unknown,” Nome officials wrote in a 4:30 p.m. statement.

No further information was immediately available.


Fire fighters in Nome battled a blaze which took over the Polaris Bar and Hotel Tuesday. As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, one person was still unaccounted for.

At that time, the fire was knocked down, with a few hot spots, according to the fire chief.

Jim West Jr., the fire chief of the Nome Volunteer Fire Department, said that the initial call on the fire came in at 2:53 a.m.

The owner of the business, who also lives in the building, smelled smoke in the kitchen area. After checking up on it, he found smoke in the storage area of the business, and called for help.

West says that first responders found flames "shooting out of the liquor store" which adjoins the hotel. "It's a big building, about 60 or 70 years old," West said.

Multiple people were inside the building when it went up in flames. West says that several people were able to get out, but that at least two people were "unaccounted for" as of Tuesday morning. By afternoon, West said one of those people had since been located safely. The other is still missing, he said.

In the morning, West said NVFD was in a defensive posture when it comes to the fire, trying to prevent the spread of flames to neighboring buildings.

"We're hitting it with everything we've got," West said.

Reports from people in the area show that multiple ambulances were sent to the scene. West said four people, who were already evacuated from the building when firefighters arrived, were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

In a video sent to KTUU by Dave Karp, flames can be seen on the back side of the building. A wall on the South West side was knocked down by the fire department to aid in extinguishing efforts.

According to Nome's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the hotel has a capacity of 34 rooms.

West said the state fire marshal is expected to travel to Nome Wednesday to investigate.