Gina Chi-Mott, general manager of the Breakwater Inn, shows a burned mattress on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, from a room fire on Sunday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Gina Chi-Mott, general manager of the Breakwater Inn, shows a burned mattress on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, from a room fire on Sunday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sunday marred by fires in Mendenhall Valley, near Aurora Harbor

No one was hurt; causes are still under investigation

Capital City Fire/Rescue had a busy morning Sunday.

A fire call in the Mendenhall Valley and a fire alarm at the Breakwater Inn came in nearly simultaneously, said a CCFR officer.

“The initial fire call went out at 9:02 a.m., a residential structure fire in the Valley at Glacier View trailer park. We responded and got there fairly quickly,” said Assistant Chief Travis Mead. “At the same time, we got an alarm from the Breakwater Inn.”

The fire at Glacier View was caused by a wood burning fire, Mead said. Neighbors were walking after the fire was lit in the morning and saw flames shooting out of the stack, Mead said.

“It is a terrible accident to have happen, but the fact that everyone got out unharmed and most of the personal property was protected is good,” Mead said.

Mead said in many cases, stack fires are caused by buildup of contaminants inside the stack. Eventually, this can compromise the structural integrity of the stack and cause a fire.

At the Breakwater, an open flame had ignited a mattress, causing smoke to set off a fire alarm.

“Arriving units found that the fire had been put out by some people in the apartment at the time,” Mead said. “There was lots of smoke. We believe it was some type of open flame.”

The damage was relatively minor, Mead said, being limited primarily to the mattress. Mattresses can smoulder for extended periods of time and release lots of matter into the air as they do, creating a lot of smoke, Mead said.

“I came down, the door was open, the window was open, and two people were outside,” said Gina Chi-Mott, the general manager of the Breakwater. “The used a blanket and tried to cover the fire on the mattress and pour water on it.”

The precise cause of the Breakwater fire is still under investigation, Mead said. The guests who caused the fire have been banned from the property, Chi-Mott said, stressing the Breakwater’s commitment to protecting the safety of guests.

“That one was more of a high-risk situation,” Mead said. “We do not want to see a fire in a large residential structure.”

Protect your home

Fires can be common in the winter as residents use fireplaces that have been dormant for months.

“Be aware that accidents can happen,” Mead said. “The big thing with wood stoves is that you should clean it annually. There’s no better alternative then just coming down to the fire hall and borrowing the brushes and cleaning out the chimney.”

Mead also cautioned residents to be extremely careful with candles, making sure they’re not left burning in empty rooms or homes, as they’re a common origin point for residential fires.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or

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