Blaze destroys Birchwood home
An early-morning fire off South Birchwood Loop on Sunday, May 6, completely destroyed the home of longtime Chugiak residents Jim and Lindsay Vermillion.
“It’s just a smoking hole in the ground,” said Jim Vermillion on Monday, May 7.
He and his wife were in the process of remodeling the home at 19022 Baidarka, which Jim said was originally built in the 1950s. At the time of the blaze, they were staying in their large shop next door, which houses Concrete Polishing and Artistic Staining of Alaska.
“A passing jogger, a Good Samaritan, pounded on our door at 6:30 in the morning,” Jim said.
The Vermillions awoke to see the home they’ve lived in since the 1970s nearly completely engulfed in flames.
When crews from the Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department arrived minutes later, they realized the burning home was already too far gone to save.
“It was 30 to 50 percent involved,” said CVFD spokesman Jeff Hartley.
However, the shop — which sits just 50 feet away from the home — was still in real danger, Jim Vermillion said.
“It was hot enough that it was starting to break windows,” he said.
Hartley said fire crews concentrated their efforts on making sure the fire didn’t spread to the Vermillions’ shop.
“When our crews got on scene they went into a defensive operation,” he said.
Jim Vermillion said he doesn’t know who the jogger was who woke he and his wife, but he’s sure that if the fire department had arrived much later, the fire could have been even worse.
“We would have lost both buildings,” he said.
He said the remodeling process was nearly complete. New appliances and a dining room table were already in place, and the couple planned to return to their home this spring.
“We were going to move into it soon,” he said.
Jim Vermillion said it’s too early to say if he and his wife will rebuild.
“We’ve got to sort through this disaster first,” he said.
He said many people in the community have already stopped by to offer their help, and the outpouring of support from neighbors has been overwhelming.
“Everyone that’s come around have been wonderful,” he said.
Hartley said the cause of the fire is undetermined.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org