Everyone safe after Eagle River house fire


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A member of the Anchorage Fire Department hands over "Max," a cat belonging to Janet Seitz, right, whose house caught fire Friday, Aug. 17 in Eagle River. Seitz, along with two cats and two dogs, survived the blaze uninjured.

Star photo by Matt Tunseth

There were no injuries to either humans or animals after a house fire broke out on Upper Sunny Circle Friday morning in Eagle River.

Homeowner Janet Seitz — along with her two dogs and two cats — escaped the blaze unharmed. Two workers installing new tile in the two-story home's downstairs were also unharmed. Seitz said she beleived the workers were already outside the home when the fire began.

Seitz said she was upstairs when she first heard a fire alarm. Shortly after, she began smelling thick black smoke billowing up from downsairs. She exited the home at the same time as her two dogs, but had to leave the cats inside.

Anchorage Fire Department Station 11 captain Steve Kostlin said the blaze appears to have been started by flammable cleaning material being used by the workers in the two-story home's downstairs living room. In a press release issued later in the afternoon, the department estimated the home suffered approximately $70,000 in damages.

Seitz said she's lived alone in the family home at 11521 Upper Sunny since her mother passed away in November. The family has owned the home since 1966.

As firefighters worked to put out the blaze, Seitz sat on a neighbor's yard outside nervously wondering about the fate of two cats — Max and Lance — still inside. When a firefighter emerged from the still-smoking home with Max in his arms, Seitz broke into tears.

"I was just ecstatic," she said.

Later, firefighters told her they'd also located Lance safe inside. However, they were unable to safely remove the stubborn feline.

"I guess he's alright if he's scratching firemen," Seitz said.

AFD said a total of 14 units from Eagle River and Anchorage worked on the fire, which was first reported at 10:19 a.m.

Seitz said she's working with her insurance company to determine how to proceed next. A fire restoration company was already on scene as firefighters finished putting out hot spots inside.

Seitz said she hadn't yet seen the extent of the damage, but was most worried about some old photos and books. However, she said most of her important information was on her computer and should have survived unscathed.

"I back everything up with Carbonite," she said of the online data-backup service.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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