Christmas Day fire destroys Chugiak home

Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 11:57
  • A home in Chugiak burned on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2017. Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue chief Tim Benningfield said the home was a total loss. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)
  • A home in Chugiak burned on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2017. Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue chief Tim Benningfield said the home was a total loss. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Six people escaped a Christmas Day fire in Chugiak without injury, but their home was a total loss.

Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department chief Tim Benningfield said nine units from his department and a water tender from Anchorage Fire Department Station 11 responded to the blaze at the corner of Husky Street and James Way in a neighborhood between North Eagle River and South Birchwood.

“There were six residents at home, all of them escaped, they were already awake,” he said.

The call came in at 8:07 a.m. When crews arrived, they found flames coming from the front door and a bedroom of the home. Benningfield said the garage and a boat outside survived the fire, but the rest of the structure did not.

“The home itself is certainly a total loss,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, a large hole could be seen in the roof of the home, its interior appearing to have been gutted by the blaze. There were about a dozen vehicles in front and back of the one-acre lot.

Although there were no human injuries, Benningfield said a couple pets were killed.

“They lost (two) birds but they were able to escape with their dogs,” he said.

Benningfield said the Red Cross responded to help the people living in the home, who he said are now staying with neighbors.

Benningfield praised his volunteers, many of whom were just starting to unwrap Christmas presents with their families when the call came in.

“We talked about that a lot yesterday. We had a number of our personnel that had every reason to stay at home — and they didn’t,” he said. “I think that says a lot about the quality of people we have here.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A GoFundMe.com account has been started to benefit one of the people living in the home.

According to online property records, the 3-bedroom, 2,112-square foot single-story wood home is owned by David and Patricia Kowalski; it was built in 1983 and has an assessed value of $241,000.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com

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