Crews find smoke, no fire at Chugiak home

Saturday, July 15, 2017 - 20:42

The Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department responded to a house that was smoking but not ablaze Thursday, June 29 on Oberg Road in Chugiak.

Department chief Virginia McMichael said firefighters were called out after someone turned the electricity back on at the home.

“They had recently turned the electricity on, it appears, and the house filled with smoke,” she said.

Property records show the home belonged to the late Kathleen Murphy, a Chugiak attorney who died earlier this year amidst animal cruelty charges filed after authorities found two dead dogs inside the home. In early March, Murphy was found by police at her Anchorage office, where she had apprently been living with her one remaining dog. She told arresting officers she had been unable to care for her dogs because snow had piled up too high at her Chugiak home. Later that month, Murphy was found unconscious at her office; she died March 26 at Providence Hospital of undisclosed causes.

McMichael said eight pieces of equipment and about 15 members of the department responded to the scene. They entered the home but weren’t able to located any fire.

“We didn’t find anything,” she said.

The department cleared the home using thermal imaging equipment to located any potential hot spots. By 2 p.m., fire crews were wrapping up the operation within about an hour of their arrival on scene as utility workers arrived. A Dumpster sat outside an open garage door as several people stood across the street watching the crews clean up the scene.

“We’ve advised them to keep the electricity off for now,” she said.

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