Fire Rips Through Second Apartment Building in a Week
Government Hill complex burns a week after Midtown arson
ANCHORAGE - Thursday marked exactly one week since an arsonist sparked a blaze that fire officials said destroyed a Midtown apartment complex, displacing dozens. Now, after a second fire in Government Hill, dozens more are without a home.
Dozens of fire trucks, firefighters and police personnel lined the roads near 905 Richardson Vista Road, where a fire began shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday.
The flames engulfed four or five units and left the rest of the building charred from smoke damage, according to the Anchorage Fire Department (AFD).
Forty people called the building home, now 40 people are searching for alternative housing.
“The crew said that the building is going to be out for a while,” said Raymond Marin. “There is no water, [and] no gas, so we can’t live there. The first thing I am going to do is go get my belongings and find a new place to live.”
Marin said there was only one thing in the apartment that was worth any value to him during the blaze -- Champ.
“That was the only thing going through my mind,” said Marin, who took a minute to look over at his dog. “My dog is in there and he is trapped.”
Marin, who works on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, was at work when he got the call. He rushed home to try and save Champ, but firefighters wouldn’t let him in the building. Marin said they told him it was too dangerous.
So firefighters went in and recovered him, but Champ wasn’t the only pet stuck in the building.
“I seen a couple firefighters coming out of the building that was on fire and they had a dog, a couple cats and it looked like a bird cage,” said apartment resident Allen Wells. “So [those] guys don’t just risk their lives for us, they risk their lives for our pets too.”
Wells was walking his dog when he saw smoke. He said within seconds flames shot through the roof of the three-story building. The second and third floors were the only ones that caught fire, according to AFD.
“Ignorance is bliss sometimes, but in this situation it was good the maintenance guy [came] over and started beating on the doors,” said Wells. “The lady next door was asleep because she had just pulled a double shift. I beat on her door really hard and went outside.”
Within minutes firefighters arrived, but not without difficulty.
“On a lot of these streets where parking is limited, it makes it difficult to get some larger apparatus’s into place to start and attack the fire,” said AFD Captain Kevin Wallace, who added they got the blaze under control in 30 minutes.
But fire crews are expecting more fires like this one, according to Wallace.
“The winter, we seem to have an increase in fire response partially due to heating systems,” said Wallace. “The colder it is, people are cranking up the heating systems.”
AFD investigators are still looking into what sparked the blaze, but they are pleased no one was injured.
AFD spokesperson Al Tamagni said it doesn’t appear that the entire building is a loss.
The Red Cross who was on scene assisting residents and said they planned on opening a shelter.