Small fire causes more than $8,000 in damage to UAS Sitka office

SITKA — A fire damaged a small office at University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus Thursday night before it was put out by firefighters, the Sitka Fire Department said.

Assistant Fire Chief Al Stevens said no one was injured, and when firefighters arrived they were able to contain the fire within one minute.

The fire occurred in the office of the Fisheries Technology program on the first floor of the college building on Japonski Island.

Stevens is investigating the cause of the fire, which started under a desk. He said he believes it was caused by an overloaded surge protector.

“We’re still investigating it,” he said. “The surge protector is the area of origin. … The cause remains unknown.”

The 911 call came in to the fire hall at 7:19 p.m. from someone on campus who saw smoke, and heard a “popping” sound coming from inside the closed office. The smoke detector went off, but the sprinklers had not yet activated, which would have caused more damage, said Stevens.

He estimated fire and smoke damage at $8,000 to $10,000. “The whole room got toasted,” Stevens said.

Two fire trucks and 17 firefighters responded to the call. Firefighters ran a hose into the building, opened the door and quickly extinguished the flames, Stevens said.

“The fire didn’t have a chance to grow. … It was seconds from the sprinklers activating, which would’ve caused further water damage,” he commented.

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