East Anchorage Fire Injures Two Firefighters
Roof collapse traps one firefighter
ANCHORAGE - Two firefighters were injured Sunday afternoon while working to put out a blaze in a two-story house in East Anchorage.
Eleven units responded to the home at around 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon on the 3,000 block of Campbell Airstrip Road.
While fire crews battled flames near the upstairs back deck, part of the roof covering the back deck collapsed on a firefighter.
A rescue team immediately went in to recover the man, who has at least 10 years experience in the job.
After several minutes under the rubble he was pulled free and taken to the hospital.
Fire department sources say the injured firefighter hurt his back but is now stable and talking.
A second fire fighter was also injured and was sent to a hospital to be evaluated.
AFD officials say there's always a safety officer on site, watching for signs of collapse while the crews go in, and what happened here today was a worst-case scenario.
"Any time you have a firefighter trapped or injured one of the first things they do is try to fight the fire and go in and look for people; they never plan on being the one that is rescued, but we have teams that go through training on how to survive these types of things," said Al Tamagni with the Anchorage Fire Department.
Fire officials say a heavy snow load, which is made even denser by fire, could have contributed to the collapse.
Witnesses say the fire spread very quickly with what appeared to be old carpet and other materials on the back deck fueling the blaze.
Next-door neighbor Paul Seivel told KTVA the family who was living in the house had moved out at least a week ago, but he had seen workers and painters going in and out over the last few days.
"They were remodeling the past week and they had a bunch of stuff piled on the back deck and it was all on fire and it was too far gone for me to get my fire extinguisher so I immediately called 911,” said neighbor Paul Seivel.
Seivel also told CBS 11 that fire crews spent a lot of time trying to find the hydrant and digging it out of a big snow bank before they were able to hook up their hose.