Cooking fire destroys six apartments in Anchorage

Two cats killed in two-alarm blaze

Posted: Tuesday, July 24, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Six units were destroyed and two cats were found dead in an apartment building fire that began as a woman fried some fish for her boyfriend.

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Sheila Flister said she was cooking halibut for her boyfriend Sunday night in the kitchen of his new apartment. She heated about an inch of vegetable oil in the pot. When she took off the lid, she said all of a sudden there was fire.

"So I don't know if it was the stove, or the oil caught on fire or what. ... All of a sudden it kind of blew up," she said.

The two-alarm fire climbed a stairwell outside the apartment and eventually caused heavy damage to six units at The Club apartments.

Fire Department spokesman Tom Kempton said no one appeared to be hurt. However, two cats were found dead.

Firefighters tackled the flames at the staircase and the basement-level apartments, working their way up the three-story building, he said. The apartment building includes 24 units.

Six units looked to be a total loss, while six may have been damaged by smoke, Kempton said.

Red Cross volunteer John Jones said the apartment building was evacuated for the night, and the Red Cross planned to house three or four families Sunday.

The fire started in 24-year-old Josh Curry's apartment as he slept in the living room and Flister, his girlfriend, cooked, the couple said.

"(I) just heard an explosion on the stove, went over there, and the whole stove was covered in flames," Curry said.

Using a fire extinguisher only seemed to spread the flames, he said.

"We just ran out, and made sure everybody was outside, and called 911."

Another young couple, Richard Guinto and Lira Dimatulac, said they were watching television next door when their neighbors appeared and alerted them to the fire.

The apartment was their first place as a married couple, Guinto said. They moved in on Friday.

"Everything is still inside," Dimatulac said.

The best thing to do when you have a grease fire on the stove is to try and smother it with a lid, Kempton said.

Flister said she felt bad for her boyfriend and for the neighbors.

"Everything went so fast. There was no stopping it," she said.

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