Nobody was hurt in an early-morning house fire on Shoreline Drive. The blaze damaged the roof and attic space of the home after spreading from the chimney.
City of Ketchikan Fire Chief Abner Hoage said the homeowner was asleep when the fire started, and was alerted by the smoke alarm. She got out with her pet, and called the fire department at about 2 a.m. Friday.
“While she was on the phone with 911, she saw the fire spreading to the roof and notified dispatch of that,” he said. “When we heard it was spreading to the roof, I called for mutual aid from North and South Tongass, and tanker support, specifically, because we don’t have hydrants in that area.”
While within city limits, Shoreline is not connected to the city’s water system.
Hoage said about 25 firefighters responded, and the fire was knocked down within an hour, and essentially out within two hours. Responders remained on the scene for a couple more hours to take care of any remaining hot spots.
Hoage said the second floor and roof received quite a bit of damage. He did not have a cost estimate, and the official cause of the fire has not yet been determined. However, Hoage said, it did start in the chimney..
One common cause of a chimney fire is if a chimney needs cleaning, and isn’t able to properly ventilate hot gases and smoke. Hoage said a way to help prevent that is with an annual cleaning.
“Either right at the end of the fireplace season, or at the beginning of the season,” he said. “A lot of people like to do it at the end of the season, because it’s warm then and usually not icy on your roof. And we actually have chimney brushes and extension rods here at Fire Station One that people can come and check out to go clean their chimney.”
Other causes of chimney fires include letting the fire get too hot, and improper installation. Again, it’s not yet known what caused this particular chimney fire.
Hoage credited the resident for maintaining a working smoke alarm in her home.
“It woke her up and got her out of the house safely,” he said. “If she hadn’t had a working smoke alarm, the results could have been very different.”
Hoage declined to name the resident of the house. According to an online search of Ketchikan Gateway Borough property records, it is owned by Dawn M. Uttke.