Fire destroys trailer, strands family

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2001

A family of four is looking for permanent shelter and help from the community today after a fire gutted its trailer home Monday morning.

The family was not insured, said Max Mielke, Capital City Fire and Rescue incident commander at the scene. He said the fire caused an estimated $40,000 in damage.

The fire was reported about 11:16 a.m. by a woman, one of the trailer home's owners, who managed to escape, firefighters said. Another adult and two children were not home at the time. No one was hurt in the blaze. Officials are not releasing the name of the family.

Mielke said the trailer was fully engulfed in fire when 23 firefighters, two engines and an ambulance arrived about 11:35 a.m. The entire front end of the trailer was in flames and posed a danger for his crew, he said.

"We had to back out at one point," Mielke said. "When the guys went in at one point the fire just rolled over them. Inside, it just started rolling across the top of the structure, right on top of them. So we backed out to take a more defensive strategy and attacked the fire from the outside. ... These trailers just go up so fast."

Firefighters said they had the fire under control and cleanup under way by 12:15 p.m.

Fire Marshal Randy Waters is investigating the blaze. It appeared to firefighters as though the fire began near the kitchen.

"When we got here the owner told us that she thought it started near the stove," Mielke said. "But from the looks of it, it may have come from underneath the stove rather than from on top. But right now we don't know anything about source or origin conclusively yet."

The family has received some aid since Monday morning including food, temporary shelter and clothing, said Mike Cresswell, executive director for the Red Cross. Cresswell is one of the case workers in charge of helping family members find resources to get them back on their feet. He spoke with them several hours after the fire.

"The family is very distraught," he said. "They've lost absolutely everything from what I understand. There's nothing left. ... The mother was fortunate to get out with the clothes on her back. That was all she had time for."

Cresswell said the family is staying temporarily with relatives.

People who want to donate money to help the family and other emergency victims can call the Red Cross at (907) 463-5713.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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