Franklin Street fire began due to electrical problem, fire marshal says

Blaze began at Barnaby Brewing, nobody harmed, per fire marshal


An electrical issue caused the fire that damaged a North Franklin Street building on Monday night, Capital City Fire/Rescue Fire Marshal Dan Jager said.

The fire began at Barnaby Brewing, a craft brewery that is just shy of its one-year opening anniversary, Jager said. The brewery is located in the basement of the building, which also includes other businesses and six apartment units.

“We have two possible causes dealing with electrical,” Jager said. “It’s either with the wiring in the building or the lighting in the brewing space.”

At 8:31 p.m. Monday, according to a CCFR dispatch, a call came in reporting a fire on North Franklin Street. Jager said the person who called it in believed it was a fire in a dumpster between two buildings. Responders arrived to find flames and large amounts of smoke coming from the building, and called in more trucks and emergency vehicles to assist.

CCFR Chief Richard Etheridge said on scene that everyone escaped the building unharmed, and no injuries were reported. Jager said the next day that there were no injuries and he expected people to be able to move back into their apartments soon.

Brewery owner Matt Barnaby on scene said he smelled something funny when he left work at 8 p.m.

“I noticed a little bit of a smell, but when I investigated it, I didn’t smell it anywhere else,” Barnaby said. “I just thought it was kind of odd. It smelled like a barbecue, I didn’t think anything of it.”

At about 8:35 p.m., he said, his phone lit up with people informing him of smoke coming from the building. He came over right away and let firefighters into the brewery. He said he saw smoke in the hallway but no flames. Then he saw pictures from the backside of the building that showed flames in the brewery. The business is insured, Barnaby said.

Jager said the damage was mostly in the ceiling of the brewery, and estimated the damage will amount to “thousands of dollars.” He said there’s nothing suspicious about the fire.

The following morning, employees and business owners were cleaning and taking inventory of their stores. Nothing was open, as the power was out. Milo Irish, a tattoo artist at High Tide Tattoo Parlor, said there wasn’t any major damage to the shop but that it just smelled like a campfire from all the smoke.

Mindy Roggenkamp, owner of Franklin Street Barbers in the building, and her husband Mike were standing in the sunlight outside the shop as the front door stood open to help air out the space. There wasn’t any major damage to the barbershop, they said, but they were cleaning and trying to get the smell of smoke out.

Roggenkamp said she’s owned the shop for about a decade and can’t recall a fire happening in the building in that time. She had a smile on her face as she greeted passersby, saying how fortunate she felt to not have any major damage.

“Right now, I’m feeling pretty lucky,” Roggenkamp said.

On Monday night, two of the residents in the upstairs apartments, Nina Schwinghammer and Allan Spangler, watched from behind yellow police tape as firefighters climbed up a ladder and into the apartments. The responders were checking to make sure there were no small fires still burning.

“We just moved in a week ago,” Schwinghammer said. “Our stuff’s all in boxes.”

Andrew Bogar, the disaster program manager for the Red Cross in Southeast Alaska, was speaking with Schwinghammer, Spangler and other residents at the corner of Second Street and Franklin Street. Bogar said the Red Cross supplies some options for residents after fires, but allows people to make their own decisions.

Through donations, the Red Cross has debit cards that allows residents to buy goods or stay in a hotel if they want. One of the best ways to deal with a scenario like this, he said, is to rely on loved ones.

“We don’t want to tell them the best way to recover,” Bogar said. “We can provide some suggestions. Staying with friends or family right now, after a traumatic event, are some of the healthier things they can do.”

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


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