Nome woman dead in bar and hotel fire
A Nome woman died in an early-morning fire that ripped through a local business in Nome Tuesday, according to officials.
Nome police identified the victim Thursday as 63-year-old Bette Ann Haugen. A Wednesday statement from the City of Nome had initially given her name as Betty Haugen.
The blaze, in the Polaris Bar building at 202 Bering St., was reported just before 2:45 a.m. Tuesday according to a Nome police dispatcher. The structure also housed a liquor store, as well as a hotel at which Haugen had been staying.
On Wednesday, city officials said Dae "Justin" An first smelled something burning inside the building Tuesday, then discovered the fire when he investigated it.
"He immediately alerted guests of the fire and due to his quick actions was able to evacuate many people from the hotel," city officials wrote. "His actions saved lives."
The majority of the fire was extinguished by 10:20 a.m., according to city officials. Haugen's body was found by a Nome Volunteer Fire Department member using a donated backhoe to help search the Polaris Hotel debris; the state medical examiner's office in Anchorage will conduct an autopsy.
Haugen's next of kin were present at the fire site, according to Wednesday's statement, and further notifications were made once her identity was confirmed.
Staff from the state fire marshal's office were headed to Nome Tuesday evening to investigate the cause of the fire, which caused at least $750,000 in damage.
"Though the circumstances are tragic, this event represents the spirit of our community; people of Nome coming together in time of need to serve," city officials wrote Wednesday. "The combined dedication and performance mitigated the possible loss of life and property from this significant community event."
The Nome Recreation Center is taking people in who need emergency shelter. Anyone needing assistance can call Dispatch at 443-5262.