Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, January 11, 2008

Firefighters extinguish Mendenhall Valley fire

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JUNEAU - Capital City Fire and Rescue responded at about 7 p.m. Wednesday to a fire in an attached home at 9450 Patricia Place in the Mendenhall Valley.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and damage was contained to the room where the fire started. Smoke moderately damaged the entire home, according to Capital City Fire and Rescue.

The residents tried to extinguish the fire with water and a fire extinguisher before the fire department arrived. Three of the occupants were taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for evaluation and treatment of smoke inhalation, fire officials said.

Fire department staff estimated the fire caused about $15,000 in damage to the home, and about $300,000 of the home's value and contents were saved.

The cause of the fire is believed to be unintentional and is still under investigation.

Playwright project winners announced

JUNEAU - The Juneau Douglas Little Theatre on Thursday announced the two winners of its inaugural Juneau Playwright Project.

Geoff Kirsch won for his play "Relationship Insurance" and Erik Boraas won for his play "Coming Back." Each of the winners received a $250 cash prize and a fully staged production of his one-act play. The shows are scheduled for production for the first three weekends of March.

A three-judge panel selected the winners from the pool of nine submissions. Rainbow Foods and PolarSounds Entertainment sponsored the project, with additional support from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council through city of Juneau funding.

Standoff ends with Elim man's arrest

ANCHORAGE - An Elim man suspected of firing a rifle inside his home was arrested after a two-hour standoff, Alaska State Troopers said.

Kyle Jemewouk, 23, was subdued with a stun gun, troopers said. He faces multiple criminal charges.

Elim is a village of about 300, 96 miles east of Nome. Troopers responding to a report of an assault at about 8 a.m. Monday were told that Jemewouk had made home brew and given it to two girls aged 14 and 15.

The girls told troopers that Jemewouk wanted the 14-year-old to leave but have her friend stay, according to their statements. The younger girl refused to leave her friend alone. She called Jemewouk a name and he punched her, according to prosecutors.

The girls locked themselves in a bathroom and Jemewouk fired a .30-06 rifle inside the house, according to court documents.

Trooper Aileen Witrosky and alcohol and drug enforcement investigator Jay Sears agreed to let Jemewouk's best friend talk to him and try to calm him down, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. The friend, Martin Saccheus, knocked on the door, and Jemewouk opened it, with the barrel of the rifle in his mouth, according to officers. Saccheus tried to wrestle the gun away from him and officers came to his assistance.

Jemewouk kicked free and locked himself in a bedroom. He doused the room in lighter fluid and threatened to burn himself and the home. He also stabbed himself in the forearm, Peters said.

After two hours of trying to talk Jemewouk out, officers burst through the door, used the stun gun on him again and tried to take him into custody. During the struggle, Jemewouk bit Sears on the hand, officers said.

Jemewouk is charged with manufacturing alcohol, providing alcohol to minors, felony violation of probation, assault, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer, attempted escape, misconduct involving a weapon and attempted suicide.

Memorial scheduled for pilot in deadly crash

KODIAK - A memorial service has been scheduled for Robin Starrett, the pilot of the Servant Air airplane that crashed in Kodiak last weekend.

Besides Starrett, also killed in the crash were five Russian Old Believers from the Homer area.

The ceremony has been scheduled for Sunday at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium at Kodiak High School.

Servant Air has established a memorial fund at Wells Fargo Bank in the name of the families of the crash victims.

Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch, under the name Families of the Servant Air Crash Memorial Fund. Also, cards or letters of condolence to family members may be sent to Servant Air, P.O. Box 3, Kodiak, AK 99615.

Funerals for the Russian Old Believers who died were held earlier this week on the Kenai Peninsula.

Agrium workers eligible for federal aid

ANCHORAGE - Workers laid off from a fertilizer plan shuttered in Nikiski will be eligible for federal unemployment aid.

A U.S. Department of Labor official granted an appeal by Agrium Inc. and will give benefits known as trade adjustment assistance to 150 workers the company expects to lay off at its shuttered Nikiski fertilizer factory.

"It's very good news," Agrium spokeswoman Lisa Parker said Wednesday. "It's the only good news we've had."

Agrium, based in Calgary, Alberta, shut down the plant Sept. 28. Layoffs are expected to wrap up around June, Parker said.

The industrial process for making the fertilizer requires natural gas. A lack of cheap supplies from Cook Inlet gas fields forced the closure, Agrium representatives have said.

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