Blaze consumes home near Fairbanks

Posted: Sunday, January 06, 2008

FAIRBANKS - A home near the Steese Highway was destroyed in a fire because it was just outside the fire service area and firefighters turned back from the scene.

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Ace Callaway, the Fairbanks owner of the house, said officials told him his house was only 180 feet outside the area that the Steese Area Volunteer Fire Department covers.

Callaway said he has been paying for fire insurance for years and he assumed that the department covered a large radius.

"I always loved the fact that there are a lot of good people in Fairbanks, but this was wrong," he said. "We're all supposed to be neighbors. It's just very disheartening."

The Steese Fire Department responded within two minutes of the call Wednesday, but turned back when they realized it was outside the service area. Callaway said he saw them turn off their lights and head back to the station.

"When I saw the truck pull up and turn off its lights, it kind of hurt," he said.

Deputy Chief Mike Holzmueller said it's the policy of all borough volunteer departments to not respond to fires outside their range because they don't pay taxes for the service.

"It's unfortunate that it was outside the area," he said.

The fire burned for hours and destroyed the home.

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