Damage estimated at $3 million in Emmonak fire

EMMONAK — Authorities say a fire that started in a fisheries warehouse in the western Alaska town of Emmonak has destroyed several buildings and caused an estimated $3 million in damage.

No injuries were reported in the blaze that started Saturday and was still burning Sunday.

Alaska State Troopers and firefighters had responded to reports of fire and smoke around 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Kwik’Pak Fisheries facility. The flames spread quickly to two other Kwik’Pak buildings and another two owned by boat-builder Yukon Marine Manufacturing. All five buildings were destroyed.

Trooper William Connors said extinguishing the fire was a challenge due to the village’s outdated and faulty fire gear.

“We gave up after a certain point because all of the equipment was just busted and ineffective,” Connors said. “None of the equipment was maintained in this village, so we did not have any operational water pumps — the pump that was on the fire truck in the village was also busted, so when we did get water in the truck and deployed the hose, it was like using a garden hose on the fire.”

Authorities planned to let Kwik’Pak officials into the area to sort through the wreckage once the fire burned itself out.

Connors said that both Kwik’Pak and Yukon Marine Manufacturing played a major role in Emmonak, a town of 700 located at the mouth of the Yukon River.

“They’re the main business in this region,” Connors said. “They provide all the employment and livelihood.”

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