Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Fire began in bedroom of home

JUNEAU - The cause of the fire that gutted a one-story home on Long Run Drive on Monday afternoon has been traced to a bedroom, the fire marshal said.

"We know it's several candles burning in the bedroom, and I'm still investigating," said Fire Marshal Randy Waters of Capital City Fire & Rescue.

"I'm finding that newer candles can have a manufacturer problem. If candles in glass containers burn for a while and the wick floats to the side, the side of the glass can explode out and shoot out molten wax. I haven't narrowed that down to be the case in this instance, but we have a concern about the use of these (votive or accent) candles in the community," Waters said.

Owners of the home and van destroyed by the fire are Chuck and Susan Moreland, Waters said. Neither could be reached for comment.

Legendary trapper dies in river accident

FAIRBANKS - The body of a 70-year-old Interior Alaska trapper was found earlier this week near the mouth of the Tatonduk River.

Dick Cook lived for more than three decades in remote cabins on the Tatonduk and Yukon rivers near Eagle. He became known nationwide as a major character in John McPhee's best-selling book about Alaska, "Coming Into the Country."

Troopers say Cook drowned accidentally, but had few details. He swamped his canoe last week, but apparently made it back to his cabin after the incident, searchers said. Kevin Fox of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve said he last talked with Cook on June 12. Cook's body was found Monday.

Nuke workers will be compensated

ANCHORAGE - Former atomic program workers on Amchitka Island who have developed certain forms of cancer or two other diseases will be entitled to compensation of $150,000 and medical care costs starting July 31 under a federal program announced Tuesday.

The new program is required by a federal law passed last year. Workers on Amchitka employed during the Alaska island's nuclear testing period and its aftermath who have contracted one of 21 forms of radiation-related cancers, silicosis or berylliosis of the lung are eligible for compensation.

Amchitka Island is part of the Aleutian Islands, about 230 miles southeast of Attu Island, the final land body in the chain. The government detonated three underground nuclear explosions on Amchitka between 1964 and 1971. A 1998 study commission by Alaska labor unions indicated workers on the island during that time may have been exposed to health-threatening levels of radiation.

Don Weber, director of the medical screening program, said the group has identified more than 1,150 workers from the island, interviewed 450, and examined about 200. Based on preliminary data, Dr. Knut Ringen, principal investigator, estimated 25 percent of workers surveyed will have medical problems covered by the new law.

Man dies after driving into crane

ANCHORAGE - A man reported to have been driving erratically died Tuesday evening when his car jumped a median and crashed head-on into a crane.

Anchorage police had received a call of a possible drunken driver shortly after 6 p.m., said Sgt. Paul Honeman. Minutes later, witnesses watched as the compact car crossed over a concrete median. The car clipped a tractor-trailer and then rammed head-on into the crane, owned by Alaska Crane Service.

About a dozen people rushed to try to rescue the driver, but flames engulfed the front of the car. The dead man had not been identified Tuesday night.

Prescribed burn goes beyond lines

ANCHORAGE - A prescribed fire along the north shore of Kenai Lake has pushed beyond its planned boundaries and authorities are responding with nearly 300 firefighters.

Gusts to 25 mph are expected to push the blaze east toward the Seward Highway, about seven miles away.

The Trail River campground on Kenai Lake near the Seward Highway was evacuated as a precaution Monday night, said Gary Lehnhausen, a fire information officer for the Chugach National Forest.

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