Time Was 1/12/12

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 20:00
20 years ago this week
Fire ravages downtown building

A fire that destroyed a commercial building on Eagle River Loop caused $150,000-200,000 in damages, according to a story on the front page of the Dec. 16, 1992 Chugiak-Eagle River Star.

According to firefighters, the blaze likely started with an overhead gas heater. It likely burned undetected for several hours, then exploded once it reached the outside air, according to Station 11 captain Bob Benson.

“It was just sitting, waiting for the air,” Benson told the Star. “And once it got air — BOOM — everything went.”

The building housed Heatco Plumbing and Heating, Amazon Upholstery and Alaska Safety Awareness Project.


Alleged car thieves nabbed in Eklutna

When two would-be thieves hopped into Kurt Koehler’s pick-up truck outside the Eklutna Lodge, Koehler wasn’t about to let them go without a fight.

Koehler said he saw two men driving off in his truck, so he first fired a warning shot with his 12-gauge shotgun, then let a blast of bukshot fly at the driver’s side window. That was enough to convince the thieves they’d picked to wrong truck to steal, so they abandoned the vehicle and fled into the woods.

An Anchorage Police officer arrived on scene shortly after, and it was discovered that another vehicle left behind at the lodge had also been stolen. Several cops showed up, including a K-9 unit, and the men — Clyde Searles, 33, and Donald Butler, 26 — were eventually sniffed out hiding beneath a nearby home.

Witness Terry Webster said Koehler actually used restraint by only firing buckshot at the two men.

“With what he had in that shotgun, he could of just stepped out and put them right down,” Webster said.

The story on Page 9 of the Star noted that Koehler had increasingly lethal loads in his gun, ranging from number 4 buckshot to slugs.


Cops were no heroes, man says

A local man disputed a previous Star account of a recovered stolen vehicle.

According to Steve Grohol, a recent story that credited “sharp-eyed” police for locating his stolen car was “totally bogus.”

Instead, Grohol said it was he and a friend who spotted Grohol’s stolen vehicle and held the 15-year-old thief until cops arrived. Grohol said several police cars drove past the situation before he and his friend were finally able to convince one to stop.

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