Fatal Nome fire sparked by cooler in liquor store
The fire at a Nome hotel early Tuesday that left one guest dead apparently originated in a faulty piece of equipment, according to local authorities.
Nome police Lt. Nicholas Harvey said Thursday that members of the state Division of Fire and Life Safety have been looking into the Polaris Hotel blaze which killed 63-year-old Bette Ann Haugen. City officials said in a Wednesday statement that the fire was found in a storage area of the building, which also houses a liquor store and bar.
“The fire marshal’s office was here yesterday and they did state that it was electrical or mechanical in a cooler at the liquor store, so there’s no arson suspected,” Harvey said.
Nine people were in the building at the time of the fire, Harvey said.
The city statement said the person who found the fire alerted the others, who were able to escape. Haugen’s body was discovered later Tuesday, as crews searched the scene after hours spent containing it and bringing it under control.
Although Harvey hadn’t heard any formal determination that the building was a total loss, he said the damage was extensive.
“The building is completely gutted,” Harvey said. “There’s a portion of a couple hallways on the north side of the building still erect, but the ceiling caved in – so it’s basically a pile of rubble at this point, with a couple walls still standing.”
Local authorities made the Nome Recreation Center available to anyone displaced by the fire, Harvey said, but he didn’t have word on whether anybody had used the facility.