Sitka basketball team saves tenants from apartment fire

  • Thursday, March 24, 2016 3:26pm
  • Sports

Sitka High basketball team saves tenants from apartment fire 

ANCHORAGE — Fire officials say members of the Sitka High School basketball team helped residents escape from a burning Anchorage apartment building that was left heavily damaged.

No injuries were reported in the Wednesday fire, but the Anchorage Fire Department said 25 people have been displaced, The Alaska Dispatch News reported.

The boys’ basketball team had been in Anchorage for a state tournament and was on its way to breakfast when Coach Andy Lee says one of the players spotted the blaze.

“Nobody was responding so I had one guy call 911 and the other guys surrounded the perimeter of the building and started beating on windows and doors and I went inside to look around for anyone inside,” Lee told the Sitka Sentinel.

Lee said the players helped escort nearly a dozen people to safety.

Mohammed Adad, a resident of the building, said he and his family could see flames outside the windows as they ran down the stairs. He said none of the building’s smoke alarms had been triggered by the fire.

“Somebody came from outside, said, ‘Get out, everybody, get out, everybody — fire, fire!'” Adad said.

When firefighters arrived, the basketball team “let the professionals take over” and headed to breakfast, Lee said.

Crews were able to extinguish the flames within about 45 minutes.

Fire officials have not yet determined what caused the fire, but spokesman John See said the blaze may have started on the balcony, which is why the alarms didn’t go off.

“We believe it started on the deck, the upstairs right one,” See said. “Because it was an external fire, there was no fire alarm sounding — until you have a window break from the heat, nothing sounds inside.”

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