Fire crews respond to residential blaze outside service district

Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Capital City Fire & Rescue responded Saturday to a residential structure fire at 24624 Glacier Highway, but was only authorized to handle the call because someone's life may have been at risk. Otherwise, firefighters are unable to assist.

"If there is a fire outside the fire service area and it is confirmed that all occupants are out of the structure, we will send a division chief and an ambulance just to make sure there are no injuries," CCFR Fire Chief Richard Etheridge said. "Because it is outside our service area and one of our fire fighters is injured, we may not be covered under workers compensation. But life safety is above everything. If we think there is someone we can rescue, then we will do what we can."

Such was the case Saturday. The residents weren't home when the fire began, but their car was, leaving neighbors to contemplate if the family was trapped inside.

The CCFR sent two pump engines from Lynn Canal and Auke Bay to the Glacier Highway location and sprayed water to cool down heavy equipment, structures, and brush near the burning trailer home. The property belonged to Dan Jorgensen, who was later contacted and accounted for. No one was inured. An investigation determined the fire cause could have been electrical.

The fire service district stretches from the south end of Thane Road to mile 20 north of Juneau.

On Douglas Island, the Douglas boat ramp acts as the service marker to the south, and Eaglecrest lies just outside the northern service marker. The ski area's lodge, however, is in the service area because it sits on city property.

The CCFR does have a cooperative agreement with the forest service to do wild land fire fighting throughout the Tongass National Forest.

"We could deal with wildfires under the auspice of the forest service," Etheridge said. "This is the first fire I have dealt with in Juneau outside the service district boundaries."

Etheridge said while working as a state trooper outside Fairbanks, they dealt with service boundaries on a regular basis.

"It's not just terrible for the people that own the property," Etheridge said. "It is terrible for the fire fighters too, because we are used to being able to just charge in and deal with the situation. It is frustrating for everybody involved."

Some residents living outside the service district have adapted by installing sprinklers or homemade pump systems.

• Contact Klas Stolpe at

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