Hazel LeCount holds her pet dog, Serenity, as she waits with other residents to be let back into the Channel View Apartments on Sunday after a fire broke out in a unit on the fifth floor.

Hazel LeCount holds her pet dog, Serenity, as she waits with other residents to be let back into the Channel View Apartments on Sunday after a fire broke out in a unit on the fifth floor.

Seven families displaced after apartment fire

Fifteen people won’t be returning to their homes for an unknown amount of a time after a fire Sunday in one apartment unit created water damage for six more.

Members of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Southeast Alaska and the American Red Cross worked Sunday night to find options for displaced residents at the Channel View Apartments, a limited-income housing option in downtown Juneau, according to housing manager Tamme Martini. Some people were able to stay at downtown hostels or hotels, others were able to stay with family.

“We have a couple of rooms open in our shelter, but we can’t force people to go there, and other places don’t have any furniture, so that’s a moot point,” Martini said. “We’re just working to find somewhere. … Where are we going to put people?”

According to online reports from Capital City Fire/Rescue, one fifth floor unit inside the complex on Gastineau Avenue experienced fire and smoke damage Sunday evening. The cause of the fire is still unknown, and CCFR officials could not be reached for an update on the total damage to the structure.

Martini said the complex houses 38 people in 22 units. Fifteen residents lived in the seven units that were affected by smoke or water. Martini said as of Monday, she only knew of three people who were taken to the hospital as a result of the fire — a mother and her two children who lived in the unit where the fire began. Martini said an infant also lived in the unit.

CCFR initially reported online Sunday that two people were taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for evaluation after inhaling smoke.

Investigators from the Fire Marshal’s office immediately began working the scene after the fire was contained but were not able to say what the cause of the fire was as of Sunday. No one was available to speak by phone with the Empire Monday.

Martini said the nonprofit group St. Vincent de Paul Society of Southeast Alaska, which manages the Channel View Apartment complex, is continuing to deal with the financial burden of finding homes and other necessities for its displaced residents. One unit may be ready by Wednesday, Martini said, while other units may be a total loss.

Members of the American Red Cross were on the scene immediately following the fire and handed out some essential for people unable to go back home, said Beth Bennett, the regional communication officer for Red Cross of Alaska. Some volunteers handed out bags with toiletries while others helped residents find a phone to call family members to let them know they were OK.

Martini said displaced residents who are now living in hotels without cooking areas or microwaves are starting to worry about food options. St. Vincent’s is helping connect them with options in the community, and the organization is also accepting cash donations. Other donations — St. Vincent’s is specifically seeking linens and other common household goods — can be taken to St. Vincent’s main office at 8617 Teal Street.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

Firemen wait on Franklin Street after responding to a fire at the Channel View Apartments on Sunday.

Firemen wait on Franklin Street after responding to a fire at the Channel View Apartments on Sunday.

Firefighters leave the Channel View Apartments after clearing the building in response to a fire on the building's fifth floor.

Firefighters leave the Channel View Apartments after clearing the building in response to a fire on the building’s fifth floor.

Cecil Welch shows water damage to her apartment on the second floor of the Channel View Apartments on Monday. A fire in a fifth floor apartment causes the evacuation of residents in the 22-apartment complex on Sunday.

Cecil Welch shows water damage to her apartment on the second floor of the Channel View Apartments on Monday. A fire in a fifth floor apartment causes the evacuation of residents in the 22-apartment complex on Sunday.

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