Boy among 3 dead in Fairview townhouse fire
A two-alarm fire that swept through a Fairview home early Friday killed three people including a young boy, during Anchorage's deadliest blaze in the past year.
Anchorage Fire Department fire marshal Cleo Hill said dispatchers received numerous calls at about 1:30 a.m. reporting a burning residence on the 1100 block of East 17th Avenue. Responding crews found heavy flames at the residence, part of a row of independently owned townhouse condos, and a total of 25 AFD units were ultimately called to the scene.
Shortly after noon Friday, additional AFD crews responded to a flare-up in an adjacent condo. Firefighters said flames had moved through ceilings from the first unit, and were remove insulation from the adjacent building to reach them. Video of crews responding is posted on KTVA's Facebook page.
Hill said that the flare-up was likely caused by "some embers that probably got blown in insulation and started the next-door unit on fire." AFD crews also responded to a non-injury car crash at about the same time at a stop sign near 17th Avenue and Medfra Street, among roads which have become icy during the day's firefighting efforts.
Friday morning's victims were discovered as crews were working the original fire, Hill said. Their identities weren't immediately released Friday morning, but Anchorage School District spokeswoman Catherine Esary said a male student died during the fire.
“At Fairview Elementary School, we have a kindergartener who died in the fire,” Esary said. “It’s a sad day for that family and a sad day for the school.”
Neighbors said Friday that they could smell smoke from the fire in their own homes, and that flames were "engulfing" the area Friday morning. One of them, Denise Henrickson, recorded video of the flames early Friday.
"We share a wall," Baranov-Kaderman wrote. "My husband and I escaped with our dogs and birds. I am praying our cat is OK as we couldn’t find her in time. I am not sure what happened but I can tell you what, thank God for whoever knocked on our door and didn’t quit."
The fire took about 90 minutes to extinguish. Its origin and cause hadn't yet been determined Friday afternoon, HIll said, but it "doesn't appear to be suspicious."
Red Cross of Alaska spokeswoman Lisa Miller said a pair of volunteers responded to assist 17 residents displaced from nearby condos.
“The Anchorage Fire Department reported that one other townhouse was damaged by the fire and three other townhouses had smoke damage,” Miller said. “We assisted five families total in the nearby senior center.”
The families received financial assistance to help with lodging, food and lost clothing.
“We will continue to work closely with those 17 we assisted,” Miller said. “Our case workers will ensure they have the resources to begin recovery.”
A counselor was immediately sent to help faculty at Fairview Elementary during Friday’s in-service day. Esary said a full ASD crisis team will be on hand when classes resume Monday.
“In time the school will reach out to the family, support them as they can,” Esary said. “It will seek to support their school family, because anytime a student dies it just impacts everyone; it’s a sad, sad day.”
Friday's death toll is the highest from an Anchorage fire since the Feb. 15, 2017 Royal Suite Lodge fire on Minnesota Drive, which also left three people dead. Five girls were killed in a Butte trailer fire in September.
John Grobe, Scott Jensen, Rick Rysso and Cassie Schirm contributed information to this story.
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