Tag Archives: Alaska

Juneau, AK – Sprinkler system activated for fire in 130-year-old building; No injuries reported

An approximately 130-year-old building suffered water damage, but no one was injured following a Tuesday night fire on South Franklin Street, according to firefighters.

Capital City Fire/Rescue responded to a water-flow alarm at about 10 p.m. in the 300 block of South Franklin Street, according to a CCFR social media post. Upon arrival, responders encountered smoke on the third floor of the building. A sprinkler system had been activated and occupants were evacuated, according to CCFR. Occupants reported hearing popping sounds, which led them to the fire, calling 911 and evacuating.

The amount of damage caused by the fire is undetermined, but an investigation identified a cause, according to CCFR.

It was determined a wood screw penetrating wiring on the third floor exterior deck made contact with copper wiring, which caused electrical resistance and enough heat to cause the wood to catch fire, according to CCFR. The fire was contained to inside the wall and ceiling spaces of the business.

When the fire traveled to the ceiling, near the point of ignition, a sprinkler head was activated and put out most of the fire, according to CCFR. Firefighters were then able to extinguish the remaining flames using little water.

Juneau, AK – Sprinkler system stops fire form causing serious damage to commercial building

Capital City Fire Rescue said a commercial structure would have sustained serious fire damage had it not been for a sprinkler system and fire alarm.

Firemen responded just before 6 pm to the 8000 block of Glacier Highway after the report of smoke in the building.

Crews said they spotted light smoke haze in a large portion of the structure as they arrived, minutes later.

The crews were able to isolate the sprinkler flow and clear the smoke and odor from the structure.

The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical appliance failure.

Firemen said without both systems, the fire would have been far worse.

Seward, AK – Sprinkler system extinguishes electrical fire at aquarium saving saving staff and animals; No injuries reported

The Seward Volunteer Fire Department responded to a small fire at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Wednesday, according to a Jan. 9 press release from the center.

The fire occurred in the SeaLife Center’s avian curatorial on the second floor of the facility around 6:37 p.m. Wednesday night, according to the release. Firefighters saw smoke coming from the building upon arrival and discovered that the fire sprinkler system had already extinguished what was believed to have been a small electrical fire.

Staff from the avian curatorial recovered two long-tailed ducks that were being held in the curatorial. SeaLife Center veterinary staff and avian staff treated the birds, and the animals seem to be recovering, according to the release. No staff or other animals were injured in the fire.

The SeaLife Center sustained water damage in the avian curatorial as well as the first floor BP Theater and Exit Exhibit/Donor Recognition area. The SeaLife Center was closed to the public on Thursday for cleanup and to replace the sprinkler heads and sensors, and resumed normal operating hours on Friday.

“I’m so proud to work with this staff who, as a team, are willing to take on the challenges, learn from the experiences and go on with the important mission of the Alaska SeaLife Center,” center Chief Operating Officer Chip Arnold said in the release. “Thank you Fire Chief Clinton Crites and the Seward Volunteer Fire Department for handling the situation with speed, professionalism and tact.”

Wasilla, AK – Fire that started in cinemas tool room put out by fire sprinklers

The Valley Cinema in Wasilla was evacuated and closed Saturday after a fire started in the building’s tool room, according to the Mat-Su Borough.

The fire started sometime around 12 p.m. Saturday according to Malinda Beiler, a customer who says she was there when the theater was evacuated. Beiler says she saw at least 75 people evacuated by emergency responders.

The theater reopened on Sunday. MSB Emergency Services Director Ken Barkley says they have cut off power to the tool room and as far as he knows there is no other safety threat at this time.

“The sprinkler system did as designed,” Barkley said. “The only damage is water damage. The fire department got there and secured the sprinkler system, shut it off, and really that was all they had to do.”

A Valley Cinemas recorded message said the theater would honor the movie tickets of anyone evacuated Saturday.

“If you have purchased a ticket for Saturday, or if you were here earlier in the day when the fire alarm went off, we will still honor that,” the recorded message said, “as long as you have the booking collection code or the ticket stub.”

Valley Cinemas opened in 2011, and is owned and operated by the Coming Attractions Theaters chain. KTUU reached out to the chain for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

MSB says the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Anchorage, AK – Fire caused by a malfunctioning switchboard at university stopped by sprinkler system

After a two-week closure of the Administration/Humanities Building due to a fire, the building is now reopened as of Oct. 14.

The Sept. 29 fire started due to electrical malfunctions in the building’s main distribution switchboard. The sprinkler system was triggered by the fire, but there was little water damage to the building and its equipment, according to Deputy Director of Facilities and Campus Services, Ryan Buchholdt.

The cause behind the switchboard malfunction is under investigation. Buchholdt speculated that the age of the equipment may have contributed to the cause of the fire.

“The fire was contained within the main distribution switchboard, resulting in a total power outage until repairs could be completed,” Buchholdt said.

The utility service is connected to the building by the switchboard, which is designed specifically for the Administration/Humanities Building. Replacement parts for the switchboard are not readily available, Buchholdt said, so new parts had to be engineered and others ordered, which took several weeks.

The fire started on a Sunday afternoon, so there was little time to reschedule classes in the building, Buchholdt said. All classes the following Monday, Sept. 30, were canceled by University Leadership. They were relocated to various buildings around campus throughout the rest of the week.

“Fifty-six class sections and approximately 70 faculty and staff had to be temporarily relocated to other places on campus until the building could be reopened,” Buchholdt said.

The relocation was organized by the Office of the Registrar. The Alaska Middle College classes also held in the building were relocated to the UAA/APU Consortium Library.

Lindsey Chadwell, the University Registrar of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, communicated the incident to as many people as possible through social media.

“We worked jointly on messaging with the Office of University Advancement, which sent out broad communications via email, social media and the UAA website alerting the campus community to the building’s closure,” Chadwell said.

In addition to the 56 classes, the offices of the Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services and some members of University Advancement are also located in the Administration/Humanities Building. These offices were relocated to the University Lake Building by Facilities and Campus Services. Smaller units were relocated to the UAA/APU Consortium Library and Professional Studies Building. Staff in the building were also given the opportunity to work from home via computer if they were able to do so.

All main electrical equipment that is similar in age to the switchboard will be inspected by Facilities and Campus Services. Regular inspections will also continue, Buchholdt said.

“In addition to steps that can prevent this sort of incident in the future, our Incident Management Team, which includes representatives from University Police, Facilities and Campus Services, Dean of Students Office and University Advancement, will evaluate the overall response to find ways to improve our emergency practices,” Buchholdt said.

For more information on the Administration/Humanities Building fire and equipment inspections, contact Facilities and Campus Services through its page on the UAA website.

Juneau, AK – Sprinkler system contains apartment fire started by unattended cooking

A kitchen fire sent smoke and residents streaming out of the Mendenhall Tower Apartments on Thursday morning, Capital City Fire/Rescue officials said on the scene.  At 10:57 a.m. Thursday, Fire Marshal Dan Jager said, a call came in reporting that a fire had broken out in an apartment on the third floor of the apartments and that smoke was visible from the outside of the building. Jager said it was apartment 301, on the north side of the building.

Firefighters arrived and extinguished the fire, Assistant Chief Tod Chambers said on the scene. Three people were being evaluated for possible smoke inhalation, Chambers said, and he did not have an update on their condition as of noon Thursday.  Jager said the fire appears to have begun on the kitchen stove, and that something had been left cooking on the stove. Both Jager and Chambers said it was unclear whether the resident of the apartment was home at the time.

“The fire was on the stovetop itself,” Jager said. “From there it went up to the cabinets and spread out through the kitchen area. The heat traveled across the ceiling over to the sprinkler head by the apartment door, and that’s actually what went off.”

Jager advised people to stay near their cooking food, whether it’s on the stove or in the microwave. Chambers said responders also went up to the 11th floor of the apartment building in response to an oven that had been left on.  The sprinkler kept the fire at bay until firefighters got there, Jager said, but there was still a little bit of fire in the apartment when they arrived because the sprinkler doesn’t reach all the way to the stove. Sprinklers all over the floor started spraying, Jager said, and he indicated that there was standing water on the floor just before residents were allowed back into the building at noon.

False alarms happen from time to time at the apartment complex, Jager said, so he was happy to see that most of the people who were home at their apartments Thursday took the alarm seriously and left the building.

“They followed the directions of the alarm,” Jager said, “and that made our job a whole lot easier so we can focus on the fire itself and not having to evacuate people or people getting hurt in the process.”

CCFR responders also responded to four medical calls during the response to the fire, according to a post on CCFR’s Facebook page. There were two calls downtown, one call in midtown and one in the Mendenhall Valley, according to the post.

Fairbanks, AK – Fire inside fire department headquarters garage controlled by sprinkler system

A fire ignited inside the Fairbanks Fire Department headquarters over the weekend. FFD says the engine compartment of a light duty SUV, which is used by the Battalion Chief, caught fire while sitting inside the garage bay. The fire station’s sprinkler system activated, keeping the blaze under control until an available fire engine could respond from Station 3, the Aurora station. FFD says all personnel stationed at the headquarters were out of active medical calls when the car fire began. Two personnel in quarters began taking measures to attack the fire but could not engage until additional support arrived.

The cause remains under investigation, though no foul play is suspected. No injuries were reported. FFD says the extent of the damage to the station is still being determined, but direct fire damages were limited to the bay. Some smoke damage extended into other areas of the building. In a Facebook post, the Fairbanks Firefighters Union, blamed short staffing, saying “Every year the number of simultaneous EMS calls in the city increase. When crews are on multiple EMS calls the City has almost no fire protection… Short staffing is a major issue for the safety of residence (sic) in Fairbanks.

Anchorage, AK – Suspicious fire at elementary school contained with help from sprinkler system

A “suspicious” fire early Sunday morning caused more than $100,000 in damage at College Gate Elementary School, according to the Anchorage Fire Department.

Her classroom window had been broken. “A flare got put in my room and it caught fire,” she said.

“The District will continue the clean up until school resumes,” Esary said.

Insurance will likely cover the cost of replacing the damaged electronics, she said.

A neighbor witnessed the vandalism and it was caught on camera, said Rob Holland, the District’s director of operations.

“At least one person is visible on the video. We can’t determine who that is. The police may or may not be able to,” he said.

A cleaning crew, four of them custodians, were summoned from their beds early Sunday and showed up within an hour of the fire, he said. Everyone is focused on minimizing the disruption for the children.

“The staff that deployed at 1 and 2 in the morning were heroic people,” he said. “We aren’t going to be held down by acts of violence. We’re going to turn this around and make it seamless.”

Juneau, AK – Sprinkler knocks down arson fire in hospital waiting room bathroom

For the second straight day, in much a similar way, a bathroom was burned by an arsonist in Juneau.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Juneau fire department was brought to Bartlett Regional Hospital by a 911 caller reporting fire and an explosion.

“Someone had set something on fire in the bathroom in the waiting room lobby adjacent to the emergency room,” said Capital City Fire/Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Ed Quinto.

The fire came less than 24 hours after an as-yet-unidentified arsonist set a fire in a Thunder Mountain High School bathroom.

Katie Bausler, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said a man identified as Arlo Bradstreet set a small fire in a bathroom trash can. The fire melted the trash can and was sufficiently hot to trigger the bathroom’s sprinkler system.

According to court records online, Bradstreet has been charged with second-degree arson, a class B felony. He is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges at 1:15 p.m. today at Dimond Courthouse.

Two patients and 15 staff were working in the hospital’s emergency department at the time: All were exposed to smoke, but none sought medical attention, Bausler said.

Quinto said a triage nurse in the emergency department reported hearing a loud boom and feeling the room shake as the fire took place. It is yet not clear what, if anything, exploded during the fire.

Bausler said the noise and shaking may have been caused by the sheer force of the sprinkler system starting.

“The sprinklers really did their job,” Bausler said, adding that an inch of water covered the floor of the emergency department’s waiting room before cleanup began.

When the Empire visited the hospital Wednesday morning, there was little sign of damage and more sign — literally — of cleanup. “Wet floor” signs were scattered around the waiting room near floor fans attempting to dry the scene.

Juneau, AK – Arson fire in high school bathroom extinguished by sprinkler system

The Juneau Police Department is seeking an arsonist after a small fire halted classes at Thunder Mountain High School on Tuesday morning. “The fire marshal and JPD are investigating the fire as arson,” said Assistant Fire Chief Ed Quinto on Monday afternoon.  Fire Marshal Dan Jager confirmed that JPD’s school resource officers are investigating who might have set a toilet paper dispenser on fire in a boys’ bathroom.  It might be only a toilet paper dispenser, but “it’s kind of a significant thing,” Jager said.

The fire was hot enough to trigger the school’s sprinkler system, which enthusiastically extinguished the flames and overwhelmed the bathroom’s floor drains. Building-wide fire alarms went off, triggering the evacuation. “It sounds like the sprinklers did their job very effectively,” said Juneau School District Chief of Staff Kristen Bartlett.  The sprinklers quenched the fire but also flooded a nearby hallway and sent water into a few classrooms. Quinto estimates the water and fire damage at $2,500.

The fire started shortly before 10 a.m., and staff and students returned to the high school by 10:30, Bartlett said. The fire took place in the purple wing — the section of the school extending toward the football stadium — and classes scheduled for that wing were expected to resume in the afternoon.

“The custodians and the Thunder Mountain faculty and staff and the maintenance department were excellent at getting things cleaned up,” Bartlett said.  Parents of students at Thunder Mountain High School and nearby Riverbend Elementary School received two calls from the school district: The first call alerted them to the fire; the second told them the fire had been extinguished.

Bartlett said she cannot recall any similar arsons at Juneau high schools. Quinto said he remembers a fire in the girls’ bathroom in the same wing a few years ago. According to Empire records, a small fire scorched Thunder Mountain’s turf field in 2011. A more serious arson burned the turf at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park in 2012.


Quinto added that while Thunder Mountain has cameras covering its entrances and common areas, there are no cameras in the hallway outside the bathroom.