Lemon Creek fire leaves 6 people without a home

Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2006

While firefighters sprayed her burned-out Lemon Creek mobile home Tuesday afternoon, Maria Javier said she had no idea what she would do next.

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Six people were staying in the home, which the blaze destroyed. No one was inside at the time of the fire, shortly before 4 p.m.

When the fire broke out, Javier had packed for a trip to the Philippines and had things ready to bring to family members there. Those gifts, along with her airline tickets and passport, were in the single-wide trailer at the mobile-home park at 5875 Glacier Highway, just off Belardi Drive.

"We lost everything," Javier said, looking at the charred remains.

Later, her scorched purse was found inside, her passport only singed and tickets intact, said Linda Wahl, spokeswoman for the Juneau Chapter of the American Red Cross of Alaska.

Javier needed to go to the Philippines for an homage ceremony for her brother, who was murdered two years ago, and to see an aunt who was diagnosed with cancer, according to Wahl.

"She showed me a bottle of holy water from her purse," Wahl said.

Capital City Fire and Rescue first received a call of heavy smoke from the home shortly before 4 p.m., Division Chief Martin Beckner said at the scene. Moments after crews arrived, the fire engulfed the home.

"At that point our job was to protect the scene," he said.

The fire spread to two cars parked close to the home, but did not jump to the home next door or the tall trees that separated Javier's home from Glacier Highway, according to Beckner.

The Red Cross provided Javier's family with a place to stay for three nights, she said.

The family also will get food and clothing, thanks to donations, according to Wahl.

On the warm afternoon, the Red Cross also was there to provide cool drinks to firefighters taking a break from the blaze.

Beckner said he did not know what caused the fire, but he had seen that the blaze ran through the entire home. He wasn't sure if the vehicles could be salvaged.

Mobile homes often are difficult to save, he said.

"They are small and narrow and the fire runs the whole trailer quickly," he said. "You can't get on the roof to make holes for ventilation."

For the first time the department employed a computerized system on the department's new engine, which uses a high-volume air compressor to shoot foam and water, Capital City Chief Eric Mohrmann said. The large bubbles won't wash away, and they absorb heat.

"It pulls smoke from the air," he said.

Crews had not yet trained on the new equipment, but it seemed to work well in limiting the damage to the trailer, he said.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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