Two Ketchikan residents died in an early-morning house fire Wednesday. Ketchikan Fire Marshal Gretchen O’Sullivan announced the tragic news in a statement Wednesday afternoon. The fire marshal says a third resident of the Denali Avenue home escaped the blaze and is staying with family.
Fire crews got the call just before 5 a.m. Wednesday.
“We responded this morning to a structure fire. When the fire crews got here, the house was well involved,” said Ketchikan Fire Department Fire Chief Scott Brainard.
That’s a term firefighters use to describe a blaze that’s too intense to allow rescuers inside. The fire marshal says heavy smoke, heat and flames hampered an effort to rescue those trapped upstairs.
After getting the fire under control, fire officials say they searched the home and discovered two bodies.
Fire officials did not release the identity of the two victims. O’Sullivan, the fire marshal, says their bodies will be sent to the state medical examiner for an autopsy.
O’Sullivan says investigators have determined the fire was cooking-related. She says the fire left the house uninhabitable.
Some 30 firefighters from three local fire departments responded to the blaze. A handful of Ketchikan Police Department officers helped fire investigators comb through the home once the fire had been extinguished. The fire marshal says officials don’t suspect foul play.
Community members are collecting money and personal items for the fire’s lone survivor. Family members have raised more than $8,000 in an online campaign to pay for damages and funeral costs. O’Sullivan says Alaska’s Red Cross chapter is also providing assistance.
Family members are also asking for clothing donations: specifically, women’s large shirts and coats, size 7 and 8 pants, and women’s size 7 shoes and socks.
Alaska Pest Management on Tongass Avenue says it’s serving as a drop-off point for clothing and personal items. Family members say donations can also be dropped off at 2512 Killer Whale Avenue in Saxman.