The manager of a Mendenhall Valley garden-supply and landscaping business that caught fire early this morning believes the blaze was no accident.
Landscape Alaska Manager David Lendrum also said the fire in a storage building may cost upwards of $60,000 in repairs and replacements.
Capital City Fire and Rescue Capt. Dave Boddy declined comment on whether the fire was arson. He said the fire marshal is investigating the incident. Fire officials also had a lower estimate of damage, placing it between $6,000 and $7,000. Boddy said the initial estimates may not include damage to equipment inside the building.
"I can't say yet what this will do to my business," said Lendrum. "I don't know what I'm going to do. ... I can't talk about a lot of this yet. I don't like it, and it's pretty obvious this fire was set."
Lendrum said the storage building does not have any sources of ignition, such as faulty electrical wiring, which could cause a fire. He also said it looked as though whatever was used to set the fire was placed on the outside of the building.
Around 2 a.m. today, two engines, an ambulance and 19 firefighters responded to the Postal Way business, near the Mendenhall Valley Post Office, Capt. Beth Weldon said in a press release. As firefighters arrived they saw flames coming from inside and underneath the building, Weldon said.
Two teams entered the 12-by-24-foot structure and extinguished the fire within a few minutes, Weldon said. She said fire damage was limited to one corner of the building with smoke damage throughout.
Boddy of the fire department said several burlap sacks were lost as well as other miscellaneous gardening equipment. Lendrum said the building and much of its contents were "damaged beyond repair."
Lendrum said the equipment, seeds and gardening tools lost in the fire were used as support equipment for the landscape architecture portion of the business and for maintaining the nursery.
"All I can say is if anybody saw anything to please tell me," he said. "Call the cops, tell somebody, so that we can find out who did this."
Melanie Plenda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.