A midtown Anchorage hotel that’s sat vacant for more than 12 years hasn’t been vacant at all, according to the Anchorage Fire Department. Fire inspector James Gray said he inspected the Northern Lights Hotel in late-September and found signs that people had been living there recently.

This week the municipality released video from the inspection that was conducted on Sept. 28. There was trash, clothing, bottles, food and broken glass. The video showed bathtubs full of garbage and evidence of fires that had been set in sinks, even in the middle of the room. Gray said the hotel hasn’t had heat or electricity for many years.

“Most most people are not used to seeing a building that’s not in an inhabitable state,” said Gray. “So when they see something that’s been left vacant for 10 or 15 years, like this one has, it’s going to be a shocker.”

Gray said he didn’t think a lot had changed inside the building since the September inspection, but said more work has been going on behind the scenes.

“The owners have really redoubled their efforts to keep the building secured,” said Gray. “We’ve seen lots of security patrols. They have done a better job of sealing up the entrances and the places were people were probably getting in. We identified a few of those back in September and those have been taken care of.”

As for taking the building down, Gray said one hold-up might be hazardous materials — including asbestos, which requires a lot more permitting to remove. He said it’s easier and less expensive to deal with those issues in warmer months, so it could be spring or even summer before the actual demolition but he was confident it would happen.

“This one is a little bit longer than I’ve been comfortable with, but I can say with certainty that the owners want the same thing that the municipality and the citizens want,” said Gray. He agreed that all concerned would like to see the building come down.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.