Capital City Fire/Rescue firefighters move to extinguish a trailer fire in early March. CCFR officials talk about the importance of staying fire safe as spring approaches. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)

Recent fires emphasize importance smoke detectors, fire awareness

Two recent fatal incidents, illegal burns prompt reminders from local fire officials

With two recent fatal fires in Juneau during the month of March, Capital City Fire/Rescue wants to remind people of the importance of staying safe and mindful as spring approaches and along with it the open burn season.

CCFR fire marshal Dan Jager said the department has been running into issues of people starting their burns without realizing the appropriate timeline.

“We’ve had a lot of people, especially over this last weekend, starting to do burns and not realize that if you’re in the Lemon Creek or Mendenhall Valley areas it’s not authorized until May 1,” Jager said. “Also, we’re also looking to implement the use of a new open burn permit application, so if you get on your phone or computer you can go to the site and we issue burn permits that way rather than the traditional way that we’ve done it in previous years through the CBJ website.”

Jager said the application is a new feature the department is giving a try through the Western Fire Chiefs Association, which is allowing CCFR to be a trial department for the entire summer to see if the system is something that could be applied in Alaska with the same level of success as states from the Lower 48 have experienced.

“Honestly, it sounds like it’s fairly successful,” Jager said. “It’s intuitive and user friendly. We just started this week with our own internal staff playing around with the app itself, what are the features and how it works. One of the main things is that you can put in your address and it will tell you right away whether you’re in a burn restricted area or not, which is definitely helpful for folks to know. It’s really just to help people plan out their open burn.”

On the early morning of Friday, March 3, a trailer fire in the Glacier View Trailer Park claimed the lives of a Juneau resident and two dogs, which was believed to be started by an electric toaster. Jager said that while the case of that particular fire was more of an isolated incident, the department always warns residents of the dangers of leaving cooking food unattended.

“No matter what kind of appliance or cooking device people have that they follow the directions but also don’t leave it unattended, just like with candles,” Jager said. “I always tell people, if you use them, that’s fine but it’s strongly recommended that you don’t leave them unattended in case something happens. I’m not sure that this would have made a difference on that fatal fire or not, maybe, maybe not, it all depends, but those are really in general the big things the fire service tries to stress to residents, if you’re doing any kind of cooking, stay in the area until you’re done and then make sure all devices or open flames are completely off so that way you lessen the chances of something happening.”

Jager said another concern to be mindful of as open burn season approaches, is the drier conditions from spring into summer through what is referred to as “brown up,” which Jager said typically takes place between April through the end of May where trees and grass go through brown conditions before everything starts to bloom.

“That’s a particular concern for us just because those dead trees and grasses are easily ignited when we have periods of time where we have a lot of wind that dries them out or we have warmer temperature conditions,” Jager said. “So, when people are doing their open burns, it’s on our radar to tell people to use caution. Don’t be burning in large areas without a water source or a way to contain it in case it gets away, just be extra cautious because the conditions are so much dryer.”

For anyone who might be interested in going a step further with fire prevention through volunteering with CCFR or applying for a staff position, Jager said the department is currently accepting applications for several job openings, as well as are always accepting volunteers.

“While it might sound like we have large numbers, we never have enough help for some of our larger calls,” Jager said. “Or maybe some of the calls that might not be large but we have multiple incidents happening at the same time, like the last two fires we had last month, we had a lot of our resources dedicated to the fire efforts but we still had ambulance calls for other situations from around the city that people had coming in. So, that becomes a challenge, as well.”

Jager said those interested should visit the City and Borough of Juneau’s website and click on the CCFR tab for further information or stop by the department’s headquarters downtown on Glacier Avenue.

• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, mayor of the Inupiaq village of Nuiqsut, at the area where a road to the Willow project will be built in the North Slope of Alaska, March 23, 2023. The Interior Department said it will not permit construction of a 211-mile road through the park, which a mining company wanted for access to copper deposits. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Biden shields millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness from drilling and mining

The Biden administration expanded federal protections across millions of acres of Alaskan… Continue reading

Allison Gornik plays the lead role of Alice during a rehearsal Saturday of Juneau Dance Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland,” which will be staged at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé for three days starting Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that requires quick thinking on and off your feet

Ballet that Juneau Dance Theatre calls its most elaborate production ever opens Friday at JDHS.

Caribou cross through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in their 2012 spring migration. A 211-mile industrial road that the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority wants to build would pass through Gates of the Arctic and other areas used by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd, one of the largest in North America. Supporters, including many Alaska political leaders, say the road would provide important economic benefits. Opponents say it would have unacceptable effects on the caribou. (Photo by Zak Richter/National Park Service)
Alaska’s U.S. senators say pending decisions on Ambler road and NPR-A are illegal

Expected decisions by Biden administration oppose mining road, support more North Slope protections.

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education… Continue reading

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Newly elected tribal leaders are sworn in during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
New council leaders, citizen of year, emerging leader elected at 89th Tribal Assembly

Tlingit and Haida President Chalyee Éesh Richard Peterson elected unopposed to sixth two-year term.

Most Read