• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 12s

Victims of fatal Royal Suite Lodge fire thought it was ‘another’ false alarm

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: John Thain - 7:05 PM February 15, 2017
ANCHORAGE –

The American Red Cross of Alaska says it’s helping 50 people displaced by the fatal Royal Suite Lodge fire. Many of the victims will stay the night at the Spenard Community Recreation Center, where the nonprofit has set up a temporary shelter.

Volunteers with the Red Cross have been working since around 3 a.m. to provide the victims with food, shelter and support. Many people at the shelter say they are still processing what happened.

When the fire alarm first went off, some residents said they didn’t think anything of it.

“Initially we thought, ‘here we go again,’ because in the last week there’s been like seven false alarms,” explained Bob Miller, one of those without a home because of the fire. “People argue and then they’d go pull the fire alarm.”

It wasn’t until Miller says he heard the screams that he realized he and his wife Lisa needed to get out.

“I opened up the front, saw flames and just told my wife, ‘get your shoes on, we’re running,'” he said.

The Millers spent Wednesday at the emergency shelter set up by the Red Cross.

Volunteers are working tirelessly to provide comfort, but horrific images of the fire are burned in the victims memory.

“It was just scary, watching people jump out the window, even elders were jumping out, so I was freaked out,” 16-year-old Quinten Johnson said.

Brieanna Brooks says what’s helping her most is simply talking about the experience. She says she saw multiple people trying to find a way out of the building, and some of them jumped from the third floor.

“I could barely see her through the smoke,” she said of one victim, adding that the woman will be “burned” in her mind. “She was literally half hanging out the window, screaming at the top her voice, ‘Save me! Help me! Help me!’ You knew in seconds she was going to have to make that decision: Do I die of smoke inhalation or burn to death, or do I jump?”

The hard part for survivors now is knowing others weren’t as lucky. Two people have been confirmed dead as a result of the fire, including 38-year-old Teuaililo G. Nua, who worked at the Cordova Center halfway house.

“Today’s going to be rough, tomorrow is going to be rough, but I’m still alive,” said

These victims — men, women and children — no longer have a home to return to, but they do have each other and they say that’s enough for now.

Donations to the Red Cross and Salvation Army Alaska, which is helping feed the victims, can be made online or by calling the organizations:

The Salvation Army says those who wish to donate clothing items can drop them off at its Anchorage thrift stores, which are located at 501 E. Dimond Blvd and 300 W. Northern Lights Blvd. Vouchers will be provided to the victims so they can select clothes for their families at the stores at no cost to them, according to a spokesman.

KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Crash temporarily shuts down Seward Hwy overnight

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 23:37

    Last updated at 6:15 a.m. on Sunday, May 28 The Seward Highway was completely closed in both directions for about five hours overnight following a crash at mile 76 near Portage Glacier Road. The crash occurred sometime just before 11 p.m. and the road finally reopened to traffic around 4 a.m. Whittier police were first […]

  • News

    Jet owned by Elvis sold for $430,000 at auction

    by Associated Press on May 27, 19:09

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley has been auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for 35 years. GWS Auctions Inc. says the plane sold for $430,000 on Saturday at a California event featuring celebrity memorabilia. The auction house says Elvis designed the interior that has gold-tone […]

  • Politics

    Judge dismisses lawsuit against Clinton by Benghazi families

    by Associated Press on May 27, 19:02

    WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton filed by the parents of two Americans killed in the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington says the former secretary of state didn’t defame the parents when disputing allegations that she had lied. The […]

  • News

    Remains of Arkansas soldier killed in Colony Glacier plane crash returned home

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 18:52

    An Arkansas National Guardsman who was killed in plane crash in Alaska 65 years ago has finally made it home. Staff Sgt. Robert Dale Van Fossen was laid to rest Saturday in Little Rock. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson ordered flags lowered to half mast in Van Fossen’s honor. His remains were found among the wreckage of […]

  • News

    Historic planes head to Dutch Harbor to mark 75th anniversary of Aleutians battle

    by Dave Leval on May 27, 18:43

    John Pletcher’s invitation is too good to ignore — a chance for myself to get back in the sky for the first time in a while. It takes his JRF-5 Grumman Goose just seconds to take flight at Anchorage’s Merrill Field, then it’s off to Dutch Harbor, to take part in the 75th anniversary of […]

  • News

    NTSB investigating separate fatal crashes near Fairbanks, Haines

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 14:46

    Last updated at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 27 Two people are confirmed dead and one is in critical condition following a fatal plane crash near the small Southeast Alaska community of Haines. Alaska State Troopers (AST) confirmed 29-year-old David Kunat of Juneau and an unnamed adult male passenger from California were killed in the crash. Chan Valentine, […]

  • News

    Feds to gain control over Kuskokwim king salmon management

    by Associated Press on May 27, 12:55

    BETHEL, Alaska (AP) – Starting next month, the management of king salmon on a southwestern Alaska river will transfer from state control to federal. KYUK-AM reports that as of June 12, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin to oversee the salmon living on lower and middle Kuskokwim River. Under federal law, the switch is […]

  • Lifestyle

    Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69

    by Associated Press on May 27, 11:53

    SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – A publicist for rock legend Gregg Allman says the organist and singer for The Allman Brothers Band has died. He was 69. Ken Weinstein confirmed Saturday that Allman died at his home in Savannah, Georgia. Allman had cancelled some 2016 tour dates for health reasons. In March 2017, he canceled performances […]