Mobile home blaze leaves 6 homeless

Smoke detector awakes teen girl, who escapes

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2004

A fire in a Switzer Village Mobile Home Park unit left six people without a home for Christmas.

"We've lost everything," Rosemary Andree said Thursday after going to stay with her parents, who owned the mobile home that burned Wednesday evening.

She was ready for Christmas and had everything waiting in the place where she lived with her fiancé, Bryan Graham, along with two other households - a couple with their daughter and a single man.

Brothers evacuate, fight fire

Juneau Empire

Two brothers evacuated residents of a four-unit apartment building on Thursday morning near Salmon Creek and worked to keep a kitchen blaze from spreading, Capital City Fire Chief Eric Mohrmann said.

Bryant and Dave Coulson, who lived at 1050 Salmon Creek Lane, got their neighbors out of the building shortly before 10 a.m., Mohrmann said. But during the investigation, firefighters learned an unidentified occupant of the burning apartment had disconnected the smoke detector.

That prevented even quicker response to the fire, Mohrmann said.

The Coulsons, he said, attempted to extinguish the blaze and prevented it from spreading. Capt. Chad Cameron said firefighters put out the fire upon their arrival. He estimated damage at $4,000.

Although residents were evacuated by the time firefighters arrived, three unidentified people were taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for unspecified reasons.

Mohrmann said the cause of the fire remained under investigation, but its origin was traced to a trash can in the kitchen.

"It's believed to be accidental at this time," he said.

The mobile home was also home to several animals, only one of which survived. Resident Melissa Hull said her ferret made it out, but her daughter's ferret died. Four cats died.

The only person home at the time of the blaze was her 14-year-old daughter, Clarena, who was sick in bed. At about 6:30 p.m., she was awakened by the smoke detector and then heard people yelling outside.

"She did what they tell you to do in school," Hull said. With the home filled with smoke and seeing flames, she got down on the floor and crawled out the front door.

"We're trying to lead a normal life," Hull said, adding that she was staying with friends. She bought clothes for her daughter Thursday morning to replace the pajamas she was wearing. "It pretty much broke us," she added.

She said she was still downtown with her husband, Jesse Hull, when the fire started.

Andree said she and Graham had run out to the store to buy milk and cheese to make dinner. The other resident, George Carteeti, also was gone, she said.

Capital City Fire and Rescue Chief Eric Mohrmann reported the department found flames coming from the end of the mobile home, where the kitchen was located.

While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, Hull said the residents were told it started in the kitchen.

Mohrmann said firefighters had the blaze under control within five minutes of their arrival. Although the structure of the mobile home remains sound, the blaze caused extensive heat and smoke damage throughout.

Friends of the residents asked what they could do to help and have contacted the bank where Hull and Andree do business, First National Bank of Alaska at 8990 Glacier Highway.

Checks for the Hull family can be made out to her former name, Melissa Museth. Hull said she has not changed her name at the bank since getting married in October.

She said checks for Andree and Graham can be made out to Graham. She said if people direct donations through Lisa Loupe at the bank, Loupe will know what to do with them.

Andree said Carteeti does his banking at Wells Fargo.

The day after the fire, she was overwhelmed with everything that faced her.

"I'm just doing one thing at a time right now," she said. "I have to shut off my phone and cable because they don't plug in anywhere."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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