Capital City Fire/Rescue is urging the public to take safety precautions in the wake of four fires in Juneau in five days, including checking smoke alarms and portable fire extinguishers, and having heating equipment inspected and serviced.
The missive was issued Tuesday afternoon following structure fires at a residence on Thunder Street on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Switzer Village trailer park on Friday, Nov. 10, and on Monday, Nov. 13, on El Camino Street. CCFR also responded to a boat fire on Duran Street on Nov. 13, which was very close to a residence.
People passing by two of those incidents saw something amiss and stopped to alert the households, according to social media posts.
No injuries were reported in the local incidents. There have been 18 fire fatalities in Alaska this year, according to the civilian fire casualties information page on the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
Twelve of those were in Anchorage, said Alex Boyd, assistant fire chief of the Anchorage Fire Department. He said the number has since climbed to 13 in his city, due to another fire death on Nov. 9, which hadn’t been added yet to the page. That was a person staying in a tent in which the heating source set it ablaze, he said.
As with CCFR, Boyd strongly encouraged everyone to be proactive by checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. That should happen at least annually, but getting in the habit of switching batteries when we change clocks is ideal.
People shouldn’t overlook CO detectors, Boyd said. “We don’t see as many (deaths) due to CO, but they are insidious and when it happens it tends to be multiple people.”
There were 23 fire deaths in 2022, according to DPS’ online fire casualties information page. More than half of fire casualties this year had evidence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Many fires begin with temporary heating sources and fireplaces. “Make sure adequate distances are kept from them, 24-36 inches is usually pretty good,” said Boyd, adding that checking the manufacturer recommendations is best.
Boyd said the website of the U.S. Fire Administration (https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/home-fires/prevent-fires) has useful information, including things to look out for and other ways to protect your home.
CCFR has a chimney cleaning brush loan-out program, which can be checked out at the fire station.
The CCFR release, posted on its Facebook page, included more details about the recent Juneau fires:
• CCFR was dispatched to the 8000 block of Thunder Street for a residential structure fire on Nov. 8 at about 2:22 a.m. The occupants safely evacuated the structure and used a portable fire extinguisher prior to fire personnel arriving. A fire origin and cause investigation revealed that the fire started in the upstairs bedroom with the electric baseboard heating unit. No injuries were reported and damage is estimated at approximately $500.
• CCFR responded to Switzer Village trailer park for a residential structure fire on Nov. 10 at about 4:46 p.m. There was electrical work being conducted prior to the fire being discovered. Fire investigators determined the fire started underneath the trailer unit. The heat source was electrical heat tape that was energized prior to the fire occurring. The electrical contractor used a portable fire extinguisher to try to control the fire until fire personnel arrived. There were no injuries reported and damage is estimated at approximately $200. The American Red Cross was asked to aid the occupants.
• CCFR responded to the 8900 block of Duran Street for a report of a boat on fire next to a residence on Nov. 13 at about 9:42 a.m. Fire personnel saw visible flames and smoke emanating from a 27-foot fiberglass boat parked in the yard next to a single-family residence. The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries reported. Fire investigators concluded it started in the cabin area of the boat. The heat source was a portable propane space heater and damage is estimated at about $12,000.
• CCFR responded to the 3700 block of El Camino Street on Nov. 13 at about 8:09 p.m. for a reported residential structure fire in a garage. Fire personnel discovered a two-vehicle detached garage fully inflamed and quickly extinguished the blaze. The investigation revealed that the fire started in the garage near a workbench, but the actual cause hasn’t been determined. Occupants in the home next to the garage attempted to use a garden hose to put out the fire, but it was too large to be effective.
• Contact Meredith Jordan at email@example.com or (907) 615-3190.