Firefighters prepare to enter the Mendenhall Tower Apartments on Thursday, July 5, 2018 to respond to a kitchen fire on the third floor. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Firefighters prepare to enter the Mendenhall Tower Apartments on Thursday, July 5, 2018 to respond to a kitchen fire on the third floor. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Unattended food on stovetop catches fire at downtown apartment

Three Mendenhall Tower residents evaluated for possible smoke inhalation

A kitchen fire sent smoke and residents streaming out of the Mendenhall Tower Apartments on Thursday morning, Capital City Fire/Rescue officials said on the scene.

At 10:57 a.m. Thursday, Fire Marshal Dan Jager said, a call came in reporting that a fire had broken out in an apartment on the third floor of the apartments and that smoke was visible from the outside of the building. Jager said it was apartment 301, on the north side of the building.

Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire, Assistant Chief Tod Chambers said on the scene. Three people were being evaluated for possible smoke inhalation, Chambers said, and he did not have an update on their condition as of noon Thursday.

Jager said the fire appears to have begun on the kitchen stove, and that something had been left cooking on the stove. Both Jager and Chambers said it was unclear whether the resident of the apartment was home at the time.

“The fire was on the stovetop itself,” Jager said. “From there it went up to the cabinets and spread out through the kitchen area. The heat traveled across the ceiling over to the sprinkler head by the apartment door, and that’s actually what went off.”

Jager advised people to stay near their cooking food, whether it’s on the stove or in the microwave. Chambers said responders also went up to the 11th floor of the apartment building in response to an oven that had been left on.

The sprinkler kept the fire at bay until firefighters got there, Jager said, but there was still a little bit of fire in the apartment when they arrived because the sprinkler doesn’t reach all the way to the stove. Sprinklers all over the floor started spraying, Jager said, and he indicated that there was standing water on the floor just before residents were allowed back into the building at noon.

False alarms happen from time to time at the apartment complex, Jager said, so he was happy to see that most of the people who were home at their apartments Thursday took the alarm seriously and left the building.

“They followed the directions of the alarm,” Jager said, “and that made our job a whole lot easier so we can focus on the fire itself and not having to evacuate people or people getting hurt in the process.”

CCFR responders also responded to four medical calls during the response to the fire, according to a post on CCFR’s Facebook page. There were two calls downtown, one call in midtown and one in the Mendenhall Valley, according to the post.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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