A fire at an apartment complex in the Russian Jack area Saturday night caused police to close part of Reka Drive during firefighters’ response.

Anchorage Fire Department Deputy Chief Erich Scheunemann said the blaze, near the 4000 block of Reka Drive, was first reported just after 8:15 p.m.

“The first caller said there was smoke coming from the second floor of the building,” Scheunemann said. “Arriving crews found the second-floor and third-floor balconies heavily involved in smoke and fire.”

The blaze was brought under control without injuries just before 9 p.m., Scheunemann said.

The two affected units were heavily damaged in the fire. AFD said two cats died in one of the units; no one else was hurt. Red Cross of Alaska members were called to assist their displaced residents.

According to Cari Dighton, Red Cross of Alaska's regional communications officer, the fire affected 22 units. 

"After local officials cleared the units for re-entry, Red Cross caseworkers escorted residents back into their homes to collect valuables and other essential items before they were relocated by the Red Cross to the overnight shelter at the Fairview Recreation Center," she said.

A total of 20 individuals checked into the shelter and 12 stayed overnight. Ten Red Cross of Alaska volunteers responded and remained at the shelter overnight and on Sunday to provide blankets, cots, comfort kits, meals, snacks and emotional support to those affected, Dighton said. 

As of Sunday afternoon, officials say they're still performing damage assessment on the units affected and the Red Cross is continuing to support shelter residents. 

Dighton wrote out steps you can take to save lives:

SIMPLE STEPS TO SAVE LIVES The Red Cross is calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

  • If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
  • If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Practice the fire escape plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

Other ways to keep your home safe from a fire include:

FOR FREE SMOKE ALARMS The Red Cross of Alaska installs smoke alarm in homes across Alaska free of charge each year as part of the Home Fire Campaign. Last year, over 2,300 free smoke alarms were installed in over 700 homes statewide. For those interested in having free, potentially life-saving smoke alarms installed in their home this year, please call 907-646-5401 to set up an appointment.     

RED CROSS APPS People can download the all-inclusive Red Cross Emergency app which combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe. And there is a special mobile app - Monster Guard - designed for kids, teaching them to prepare for emergencies at home by playing an engaging game. Users can find the apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. 

WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. They can become a Red Cross volunteer by contacting Paton Stott at 907-646-5411. They can also help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

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