House catches fire off Hiland Road


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Star photo by Matt Tunseth

A home at 22222 Elkhorn Drive in Eagle River caught fire Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Resident Bob Dean said he was inside the home when he heard a strange noise coming from the roof.

"I heard a crackling up there," Dean said.

Dean said he quickly realized his home was on fire after checking on the source of the noise.

"I said, 'That ain't good. I can see fire,'" he recalled.

Anchorage Fire Department Capt. Ben Demboski said 21 units responded to the blaze, which was reported by a passing neighbor at around 4:30 p.m.

When crews from Station 11 in Eagle River arrived on scene 17 minutes later, Demboski said much of the roof and attic were ablaze.

"It was a substantial fire," he said, estimating the fire did about $150,000 in damage.

The home is located approximately six miles up Hiland Road, a winding, narrow mountain road that serves the South Fork of the Eagle River Valley. Station 11 is the nearest operational fire station.

"That's a long haul to get up there," Demboski said.

An volunteer auxiliary station house (Station 13) is located at Mile 4.2 Hiland Road, but it's no longer funded by the municipality.

Dean said the fire appeared to have started near a stove pipe. Capt. Demboski later confirmed that suspicion.

"There was a woodstove malfunction in the chimney," Demboski said.

Dean was the sole occupant of the home at the time of the fire. He said he exited to find a passerby had already called the fire department.

Mr. Dean said he's lived in the home he shares with his wife, Sheri, since 1983.

"I just put a new roof on and painted it," this summer, he said.

Capt. Demboski said approximately 75 percent of the roof and attic were damaged by the fire.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-27272 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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