Quick response keeps house fire from destroying home

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 20:00
Neighbor, AFD act fast, prevent further damage

A nosy neighbor and a quick response by the Anchorage Fire Department helped keep a home at 20513 Eagle River Road from being completely destroyed by fire Thursday, Jan. 12.

Adam Blaum was working on a home improvement project when he noticed what appeared to be an unusually large amount of snow blowing past his upstairs window.

“I just happened to see some extra snow,” said Blaum, who lives next door to the burned home. “But it was smoke mixed with snow.”

After getting a whiff of the acrid-smelling smoke, Blaum went outside to see what was going on and saw heavy smoke billowing from the home’s roof. He immediately called 9-1-1, he said.

“It was too much to be a wood fire,” he said.

The house was unoccupied at the time, according to homeowner Brad Alexander, whose three children were at school at the time. Alexander said he was at work at Red, White and Blue Auto Sales in Anchorage when he got an unexpected call from his wife, Bernadette — in Hawaii.

“She called me at work and said, ‘The neighbors just called, and our house is on fire,’” said Alexander, whose wife was with her sister in Hawaii when she got a call on her cellphone from Blaum’s wife notifying her of the blaze.

Speaking from his vehicle parked in the Blaum’s driveway about two hours after the fire, Alexander said he and the children would likely spend the night in a hotel before deciding what to do next.

“Maybe for the weekend we’ll stay with friends,” said Alexander, who said both friends of the family and the Red Cross with had already contacted him offering to help with temporary living assistance while they decide how to tackle rebuilding their damaged home.

AFD battalion chief Kevin Keene said units from Station 11 in Eagle River responded to the blaze within seven minutes of getting the call — despite blowing snow and slippery roads that made road travel difficult Jan. 12.

“The crews did a pretty good stop here to save his house,” Keene said. “Especially on a day like this.”

Keene said 13 AFD units eventually arrived on scene, including crews from Eagle River, Muldoon and Airport Heights. Keene said the fire was confined to the second floor of the home, but that about a quarter of the roof had been burned through.

“There’s serious damage to the second floor,” Keene said.

The house fire was the second in a week in the Chugiak-Eagle River area. On Jan. 5, a Peters Creek home was destroyed when its roof caught fire. No one was hurt in that blaze, either, which displaced a family of five and their foreign exchange student.

With fire investigators still inside his home and the smell of smoke drifting through the air, Brad Alexander said he didn’t yet know how much of the family’s belongings had been lost.

“Once I can get in and get the all clear, I’ll assess what’s going on,” he said.

Although news of the fire certainly made for a rough day, Alexander said he’s trying to take things in stride.

“I’ve had better,” he said. “But all the true valuables were out of the house. Everything else is just stuff.”


Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared online on Jan. 12 at www.alaskastar.com. Visit our website to see a short video of the blaze.

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