Fire forces about 50 out of the Alaskan bar

Posted: Monday, November 11, 2002

Fire officials said a Saturday night fire at the Alaskan Hotel and Bar may have been caused by a cigarette tossed into a planter.

The fire caused hotel managers and bartenders to evacuate more than 50 people from the building at about 9 p.m Saturday. Fire officials closed South Franklin Street from Marine Way to Front Street for about two hours. Marine Way also was closed to through traffic.

The fire was confined to a pillar in front of the bar entrance, said Capt. Lynn Ridle of Capital City Fire and Rescue in a press release.

No one was injured, he said.

Capt. Beth Weldon said today that officials believe the cigarette smoldered in a planter box near the pillar. She said after smoldering for a few hours, the outside decorative casement of the pillar caught fire, eventually spreading to the wooden beam inside the casement.

Weldon said damage estimates were not available.

Chris Enleaux, a desk clerk at the Alaskan who was at the scene, said smoke quickly filled the hotel from the basement to the third floor as people scrambled to get out of the building.

Enleaux and others tried to put out the fire, bystanders said. Five emergency vehicles were brought to the scene and 28 firefighters helped douse the rest of the blaze as they ripped the casement from the front of the building with axes.

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