Posted: Friday, December 01, 2000

Homer men rescued from burning boat

ANCHORAGE - Two Homer men made it to safety after spending more than three hours Wednesday on the deck of a burning boat 60 miles north of Kodiak, wondering whether anyone would come to their rescue before fire forced them to jump into rough seas.

"We looked for airplanes, vessels, anything. It was getting pretty warm," said Willie Flyum, owner of the Fox River, a 116-foot landing craft.

Flyum, 62, and Allen Smith, who works for Flyum, were heading to Shuyak Island to hunt deer when a fire broke out in the engine room about 3:30 p.m., Flyum said.

"It spread so quickly there was nothing we could do on account of smoke," Flyum said.

The fire killed the vessel's radios, so Flyum activated one of the Fox River's emergency locator beacons, which sends signals to a satellite that are picked up by the Coast Guard.

But the beacon he activated was an older model that did not tell the Coast Guard where exactly he was, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Marshalena Delaney.

Meanwhile, Flyum and Smith put on survival suits, grabbed the uninflated life raft and moved away from the fire. When 30 mile-an-hour winds swung the boat around, billows of noxious smoke blew their way, he said. Seas were about 15 feet.

Two hours after darkness fell, they didn't know whether anyone was looking for them. But the Coast Guard had picked up the Fox River's emergency signal. The air station in Kodiak was notified of the signal at 5:39 p.m.

Coast Guard Lt. John Milton and a crew were flying a helicopter in the area to practice refueling from a boat when they learned of the emergency signal. Wearing night-vision goggles, they moved in on the location.

"Smoke was coming out the front and the back. It was glowing. Sparks were shooting out," Milton said.

They lowered a basket to the deck for each of the men and hauled them up to the helicopter. The men were fine, but the Coast Guard crew noticed damage to the soles of the men's footed survival suits, Milton said.

"The padding was starting to burn up," he said.

Anchorage woman named to judicial council

ANCHORAGE - Eleanor Andrews, an Anchorage businesswoman and former commissioner of the Department of Administration, has been appointed to the Alaska Judicial Council.

The council includes three members of the public appointed by the governor, three attorneys appointed by the Alaska Bar Association, and the chief justice of the Alaska Supreme Court.

The council reviews applicants for Alaska judgeships and nominates finalists for the governor's selection. The council also evaluates sitting judges and conducts studies to improve Alaska's judicial system.

Andrews was administration commissioner under Gov. Bill Sheffield. She fills a vacancy left on the council when Vickie Otte stepped down.

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