4 injured in Dimond Park fire

Propane heater started blaze at construction site

Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2000

A propane heater fire inflicted minor injuries on four men Wednesday morning in Dimond Park.

Glacier Fire Station responded to the 911 call, which came in at 10:43 a.m.

"A propane heater in a construction trailer used as a lunchroom-warming room ignited some flammable materials, including some paint cans, and started a fire," said Lt. Dave Boddy of Capital City Fire & Rescue.

The trailer belonged to Swalling Construction Co., the Anchorage firm constructing the pedestrian-bike bridge over Mendenhall River, Boddy said.

"The employees tried to fight the fire prior to our arrival, and four were injured; they were transported by ambulance for minor burns and suspected smoke inhalation," Boddy said.

The four were a man, 30, treated for first-degree burns to his face; a man, 37, treated for extensive first-degree burns to his face; a man, 51, treated for first- and second-degree burns to his face; and a man, 53, treated for first-degree burns to his right hand and smoke inhalation. All were released in good condition from Bartlett Regional Hospital's emergency room within two hours of arrival, said Marijo Toner, Bartlett's regional affairs coordinator.

Two of the men were Anchorage residents, said Swalling engineer Mark Dawson of Anchorage. He did not know the home of the other two.

"Apparently the fire was blocking the access, and that's how they got burned," said project engineer Mike Lavering, who had not yet seen the site.

Lavering did not have an estimate of damage to the trailer, but said construction should not be delayed. "The public should be able to use the bridge the middle of December, with us coming back to do some touch-up work next spring," Lavering said.

The cause of the fire is uncertain, said Chief Scott Chehock of Capital City Fire & Rescue. "A valve might have broken or a line came off. Anyway, there was an injection of fire which created a lot more fire. It flashed over a lot of the trailer's contents. The employees were using fire extinguishers when we arrived. We got them out of there and closed the trailer up. Then when equipment arrived, we knocked it down real quick."

The fire marshal is out of town but will investigate the fire on his return, Chehock said.

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