Woman dead, man hurt in Chugiak home fire

Anchorage Daily NewsNovember 18, 2013 

A woman died in a fire that destroyed a cabin in Chugiak on Monday morning after she ran back inside despite initially getting out safely, authorities said. 

Witnesses said the woman came out of the cabin on South Birchwood Loop Road with two other occupants, Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department Chief Virginia McMichael said. Then, for unknown reasons, she returned into the burning structure. 

The woman's body was discovered inside several hours after firefighters started battling the blaze, McMichael said around 11 a.m. Monday.

A man was also injured in the fire and was transported to an Anchorage hospital, Anchorage Fire Department spokesman Al Tamagni said. 

Another woman was not injured and was transported by Anchorage police, McMichael said. A dog that had been inside the home was outside when the woman came out, she said. "We're not really sure why she went back in."

The chief described the home as log structure covered with siding and with numerous add-ons that made firefighting challenging. 

"There was quite a bit of stuff inside" the cabin, so much that firefighters could only attack the flames from outside the structure, she said.

A 911 caller at about 7:30 a.m. said a heater was on fire, Tamagni said. Firefighters arrived to see heavy smoke coming from the roof.

McMichael said early indications point to the fire's origin in a makeshift heater or stove reportedly fueled by kerosene. 

The Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office and State Medical Examiner are investigating the fatality. 

The fire was declared under control at 9:40 a.m., Tamagni said.

It generated a large response. Anchorage sent two engines, a truck, a tender, a medic rig, a safety officer and a battalion chief. Nine units responded from Chugiak.

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