Chlorine on ground near Bean’s Cafe draws AFD response
Part of Karluk Street reopened Friday morning, after a powdered chemical spread along a sidewalk near Bean’s Cafe prompted a response from firefighters Thursday night.
Ron Alleva, the owner of nearby Grubstake Auction Co., said he put the chemical down Wednesday -- on ground near Karluk's sidewalk between 3rd and 4th avenues, an area directly across from Bean's where homeless people camp.
On Thursday, he claimed he had permission to do so from the city's Department of Health and Human Services.
"That's just pool chlorine; it kills the bugs,” Alleva said.
Asked if doing so was dangerous to people, Alleva said it wasn’t, pointing to nearby signs.
“Not whatsoever,” Alleva said. “It says ‘no trespassing.’”
Darl Schaaff, who owns the property in front of which the chemicals were spread on a muni easement, said he gave Alleva permission to cut down some of the trees hanging over a chain-link fence. He didn't know anything about the chemicals Thursday.
"I don't believe it was done maliciously," Schaaff said. "I believe it was done as a final step to clean up the area. It would kill bacteria, which I'm sure there's a great deal of here."
A section of Karluk was closed while an Anchorage Fire Department hazmat team tested the substance.
DHHS spokeswoman Shannon Kuhn said Friday that Alleva did not have permission to spread chemicals. Thursday's tests identified the powder as Zappit 73 Pool Shock, a chlorine-based swimming pool cleaner.
“It was a concern about exposure,” Kuhn said. “It can cause chemical burns.”
AFD officials said one person was taken to a local hospital from the area Thursday night, but it wasn't clear if that was related to the chemical incident.
According to deputy chief Erich Scheunemann, a contractor was called in to clean up the powder and finished work by about 1 a.m. Friday.
"Sometimes you can mitigate a chemical and just wash it down with a fire hose," Scheunemann said. "This was a situation where, due to the type, we had to bring in an environmental cleaner."
Scheunemann didn't immediately have an estimate on the cost of hiring the contractor.
Alleva has a history of tension with Bean's over homeless people in the area, citing break-ins on his property late last year.
Heather Hintze contributed information to this story.
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