ANCHORAGE — Two people were injured Thursday in a fire that broke out in a three-story apartment building, causing extensive damage and displacing more than two dozen people who took shelter in a nearby church, a fire official said.
When Anchorage firefighters arrived at the 24-unit Calais Arms apartments, the third floor and roof were fully engulfed in flames, said fire department spokesman Al Tamagni. The mid-town building was evacuated and so were surrounding apartment buildings because of fears that the flames could spread, he said.
The fire was reported at 8:40 a.m. and declared under control nearly two hours later.
Tamagni said firefighters believed that everyone got out of the building. Two people were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. He did not know the extent of their injuries.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
The city and the American Red Cross of Alaska opened a shelter at a recreation center for up to 45 people displaced by the fire.
With smoke still coming from the blackened, charred remains of what was once their second-story apartment, Yon Powell and her husband, Don, said they weren’t sure where they would go now. They hadn’t been able to get close enough to see if anything remained of their car parked behind a partially burned truck.
Yon Powell, 57, said she heard a loud bang and looked out their apartment window. She saw flames leaping around their porch and coming from the apartment below. She said she yelled to her husband while she grabbed a jacket and put on some shoes.
Don Powell, 74, said he rounded up his brother and grabbed his bird in its cage. By that time the apartment was filled with smoke and he was having trouble finding the door.
The fire and smoke was getting worse as he and his wife and brother fled the apartment.
“I couldn’t even see,” he said.
Powell said he wasn’t sure what they were going to do now. He didn’t even have his wallet, he said. Yon Powell said her husband needs to take daily medication and didn’t have any with him.
“We lost everything,” Don Powell said, except for the green-cheeked parakeet called Poky that he’s had for 14 years.
The building manager was taking care of the bird in his office.
The bird is family, too, he said, his eyes tearing up.