Demolition efforts spark fire at former recycling building

Nobody harmed in early morning blaze

A building that was being demolished caught fire early Thursday morning, Capital City Fire/Rescue officials said.


Just after 5 a.m. Thursday, a Waste Management employee was on his way to work when he saw smoke in the area of the building, CCFR Assistant Chief Tod Chambers said. The employee went over to the building, which is located behind the main Waste Management building in the 5600 block of Tonsgard Court, and saw a small fire, Chambers said.

“He tried to extinguish what he could,” Chambers said, “but it quickly got out of hand and quickly realized this wasn’t something he could handle on his own.”

The man called CCFR and responders were there within 10 minutes, Chambers said. There was a heavy amount of smoke and a fire was “going pretty good,” Chambers said. The building, which was formerly the recycling center, was in the process of being demolished and the entire backside of the building is open.

Nobody was harmed, Chambers said, and firefighters knocked the fire down within half an hour. They left the scene at about 7:15 a.m., according to a press release.

In the release, Fire Marshal Dan Jager said it appears the fire began on the second floor of the building directly beneath the former control room. After investigating the scene, Jager determined that the fire began because of the demolition process.

Metal torches have been used to remove large steel beams from the building, according to Jager’s findings, and the hot material dropping down from that likely landed on combustible materials down below. This smoldering eventually flared up, Jager determined, and ignited the wooden structure inside the remaining portion of the building.

Mike Vigue, the director of engineering and public works for the City and Borough of Juneau, said the building is being demolished because Waste Management deemed it unsafe. The city is working with Waste Management to build a new recycling center there in the future as part of the city’s RecycleWorks program.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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