• 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

  • Bloomberg to world leaders: Ignore Trump on climate

    by Associated Press on Apr 23, 17:36

    NEW YORK (AP) – New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg says he wants to help save an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions. The former New York City mayor addressed his intensifying focus on climate change an interview with The Associated Press. Last week, he released a new book, “Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and […]

  • Sports

    BLM seeks public input on proposed Red Devil Mine cleanup

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 23, 17:17

    The Red Devil Mine is located on the Kuskokwim near the Red Devil Creek between Crooked Creek and Sleetmute. It started mining in the ’30s, picked up steam in the ’50s and ’60s but has not operated since the 1970s. The problem is that there’s mercury, arsenic and antimony in the soils left behind by […]

  • Students sue Trump administration over climate change

    by CBS News on Apr 23, 17:07

    EUGENE, Ore. — Avery McRae has been passionate about the environment for half a lifetime, and she’s been worried about climate change since kindergarten. Now, at 11, she is really getting serious. She recently signed on to sue President Trump and the U.S. government. “Trump is not doing anything to help stop climate change,” she […]

  • News

    Water streaming across Antarctica surprises, worries scientists

    by CBS News on Apr 23, 16:45

    In a unique study spanning the entire continent, scientists have found that water is gushing across Antarctica — more than they ever realized. The researchers from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have found significant drainage of meltwater flowing across the continent’s ice sheets during summer in Antarctica. Until now, these streams of water were mainly […]

  • APD makes 1 arrest in Carrs-Safeway shooting

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 23, 15:46

    Anchorage Police say they have at least one of the persons responsible for a shooting inside a grocery store over the weekend in custody. Anchorage Police Lieutenant John McKinnon says 18-year-old Devon Maurice Brown has been arrested in connection to the trashing of the Carrs-Safeway on Northern Lights Boulevard, as well as the shooting of one […]

  • News

    Fire damages Sand Lake duplex

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 23, 14:55

    Crews were dispatched to a house fire early Sunday afternoon in Sand Lake. Just after noon, 13 Anchorage Fire units were called to a duplex in the 7800 block of Fenn Street. Homeowner told me everyone got out of the building OK. She does not know what caused the fire. @ktva pic.twitter.com/9SfbGD1aCA — Eric Ruble […]

  • Girl, 4, missing from Palmer area for a month

    by KTVA Web Staff on Apr 23, 14:45

    Alaska State Troopers are asking for the public’s help in locating a 4-year-old girl who’s believed to have been taken by her father. Troopers in Palmer says 4-year-old Charlie hasn’t been seen since March 21, and the girl was with her father, 57-year-old Raymond Martin, of Wasilla. Authorities say Martin failed to relinquish custody of […]

  • News

    North Korea detains third U.S. citizen

    by CBS News/Associated Press on Apr 23, 12:55

    PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Korea has detained a U.S. citizen, officials said Sunday, bringing the number of Americans being held there to three. Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name Kim Sang-duk, was detained on Saturday, according to Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Park said […]