Palmer home fire injures 2 residents, spreads to trees

thanlon@adn.comFebruary 10, 2014 

A blaze tore through a Palmer home Sunday night and wind gusts sent sparks into nearby trees, igniting spot fires and prompting troopers to alert neighbors of possible danger, officials said.

The 911 call came in shortly after 9:15 p.m., reporting a residential fire near Laurel Drive and Witez II Lane. At least 45 units responded from Palmer, Sutton, Butte, Big Lake, Meadow Lakes and the Mat-Su Borough, said Jon Owen, Palmer's public safety officer.

Two residents were taken to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, troopers said.

Winds whipped sparks off of the three-story home's roof. Fires started in trees and in the grassy, overgrown field surrounding the fully-engulfed structure. Some embers crossed the road. Neighbors called dispatch, fearing the blown and encroaching flames, Owen said.

The National Weather Service recorded gusts up to 63 mph at the nearby Palmer Municipal Airport. Owen said temperatures dipped below 20 degrees.

"It's really a recipe for wildland fires," he said.

Troopers knocked on doors of the homes downwind of the fire, notifying neighbors of the danger if the blaze spread, said Megan Peters, troopers spokeswoman.

Without fire hydrants, firefighters used water brought in on tankers to battle the home and wildland fires. The tankers were staged in the Manna Independent Baptist Church's parking lot, said Otto Feather, deputy director of emergency services with the Mat-Su Borough.

Church members opened up the building and served firefighters, many of them volunteers, chocolate chip cookies throughout the night, Feather said.

By 10:45 p.m. the fire was under control. Firefighters were able to contain the flames and avoid neighborhood evacuations, troopers said.

The fire was out by 1:11 a.m. and the fire marshal cleared the scene at 3:43 a.m., Owen said. The fire's cause is still under investigation.

Palmer Fire and Rescue issued a burn suspension for the city Wednesday, in effect until further notice.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589.

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