A Sunday evening fire in an apartment complex left its former occupant homeless and the family next door living in a smoke-damaged unit.
Capital City Fire/Rescue was called to the scene at 2800 Postal Way about 7 p.m. and had the blaze under control within about an hour.
“The fire started in the bedroom of the apartment however the exact cause has not been identified as there were multiple potential heat sources,” according to a CCFR release emailed to news organizations by assistant chief Dan Jager.
“Neighbors reported hearing a loud boom similar to a door slamming prior to the fire being noticed. Attempts were made to utilize portable fire extinguishers from outside prior to fire personnel arriving,” according to the release.
The unit was home to Bonnie Charles, 64, who said she left about 10:30 a.m. with friends to go to church, lunch and shop. She was still with them when a neighbor alerted her daughter to the fire, who called Charles. She raced home to find the damage.
“I was shaking so hard. I was in shock,” said Charles. “I lost everything.”
Charles said before she left for the day she went back inside twice while her friend waited. “I don’t burn candles, I didn’t curl my hair.” The only thing plugged in was her tablet, she said. In the past she had trouble with the heat, but inspectors had come by to take a look. “I really don’t know what caused the fire,” she said.
Kaley Nauska, who lives next door with her two kids, 11 and 16, and her brother, was sound asleep when it happened. They frantically woke her up. “Smoke was pouring in the vents,” she said. “It was scary. It seemed like our apartment was going to catch on fire.”
The family raced outside and joined others gathering from the complex. “There was smoke everywhere,” she said. At one point neighbors grew concerned that firefighters working to contain the blaze weren’t going inside, fearing Charles or pets might still be inside. She said the neighbors eventually checked for themselves to make sure.
“The occupant was NOT home at the time of the fire,” according to the CCFR release, which also noted the blaze was contained to a single unit.
On Monday morning Nauska stood outside her unit looking at the damage. There was still water underneath the sidewalk overhang, a boarded up window on the next door apartment, and fresh smoke damage under a vent.
“My house smells like smoke. Everyone is concerned about me because of my health issues.”
Nauska said she was also concerned about her family. “They were pretty upset about the situation. It was hard for them to get to sleep.” She kept the kids home from school today.
Charles said Monday she remained in shock, calling the loss of her home “traumatizing.” She is trying to figure out what she will do. But she is OK for now, she said. She is staying in a hotel for two nights while Alaska Housing Finance Corp. looks for another apartment.
• Contact Meredith Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907) 615-3190.