House fire displaces family of 6 in Chugiak

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 09:54
  • Residents watch firefighters extinguish a house fire along the Old Glenn Highway on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Six people were displaced by the blaze, which was under control in about 45 minutes. No injuries were reported. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Alaska Star)
  • Firefighters walk through foam outside a house fire along the Old Glenn Highway on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Six people were displaced by the blaze, which was under control in about 45 minutes. No injuries were reported. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Alaska Star)
  • A firefighter works to extinguish a house fire along the Old Glenn Highway on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Six people were displaced by the blaze, which was under control in about 45 minutes. No injuries were reported. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Alaska Star)
  • Residents watch firefighters extinguish a house fire along the Old Glenn Highway on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Six people were displaced by the blaze, which was under control in about 45 minutes. No injuries were reported. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Alaska Star)

A fire left six people without a home Sunday evening in Chugiak.

According to Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department assistant chief Clifton Dalton, the fire was reported at 5:47 p.m. and firefighters arrived from the nearby CVFRD Station 35 on the Old Glenn Highway two minutes later. When crews arrived, Dalton said the home was about 50 percent engulfed in flames.

“It took us about 45 minutes to get it under control,” he said.

No injuries were reported to firefighters or residents of the home, which is located about a quarter-mile north of the Glenn Highway/South Birchwood intersection. Damage to the structure was still being assessed, but the building appeared to suffer heavy damage.

The fire also spread to a nearby mini storage business, but firefighers were able to contain the spread to one unit of the facility.

The Old Glenn Highway was shut down for more than two hours while crews battled the blaze. Dalton said the situation was complicated by a lack of hydrants in the area, meaning four water tenders had to be brought in to help contain the fire. The road has since been re-opened.

A total of 20 units responded to help fight the fire, including 10 from Chugiak, 7 from the Anchorage Fire Department and three from the Central Mat-Su Fire Department. At least two patrol units from Anchorage Police Department were also on scene to help direct traffic.

Homeowner Edward Sparks said he was alerted to the fire by the sound of pounding on the door. He said he and his wife had enough time to get the family out and grab some important papers before the house was engulfed in flames.

“Someone stopped by and was banging on the door,” Sparks said.

[READ MORE: Good Samaritan recalls helping Chugiak family escape blaze]

The Red Cross was en route to the scene Sunday evening.

Sparks said Sunday night he’s not sure what the family will do next.

“Once I get in there I’ll see if it’s rebuildable or if it all has to come down,” he said.

Sparks speculated the fire may have started from a small smoker he had outside the home. He didn’t have a plan for how to rebuild Sunday, and was waiting to hear from the Red Cross about what to do in the immediate aftermath of the blaze.

“The only plan I have is the same plan I always have: Drive on,” said Sparks, who has lived in the home since 1988.

Sparks’ daughter, Juanita Kakiva drove out to Chugiak from Anchorage when she heard about the fire. Surveying the scene Sunday night, she said the situation was a shock.

“It’s never a comforting feeling to see the house you grew up in up in smoke,” she said.

However, she said things could have been worse.

“I’m just glad everyone got out quickly,” she said.

Kakiva said a Gofundme.com account has been set up to help the family. Click here to donate.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the fire happened north of the Old Glenn/North Birchwood intersection; it was north of Old Glenn/South Birchwood.

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