Alert neighbors sound the alarm for S. Anchorage condo fire

dkelly@adn.comFebruary 14, 2014 

A South Anchorage couple warned neighbors and alerted authorities Thursday morning after a thick smell of smoke infiltrated their condo.

After receiving a fire call at 10:21 a.m., 16 Anchorage Fire Department units responded to the Woodlands East complex at 102 Sweetgale Court within three minutes, said Capt. Jaime Leon of Station 12.

Thirty-year-old Joshua Weith stood outside with other residents as firefighters battled the blaze that had traveled through the walls of one unit and scorched the floors of the condo above.

Weith had recently been woken up by his girlfriend, Tracy, who asked him if he smelled smoke. He immediately did. In a quick sweep of their home, the couple didn't see any flames. But the smell of smoke grew stronger when Weith stepped out into the hallway, and Tracy picked up the phone, he said.

"Before she was even off the phone, I was out banging on doors and heard sirens coming up the road," Weith said.

Firefighters didn't immediately see flames when they pulled up but smoke poured out of the building's chimney, Leon said.

They entered the building through the front door and found a second-floor and a third-floor unit charged with smoke. "You can't see anything," Leon said.

Smoke detectors sounded in the two units but no one was home. There was no sprinkler system installed, Leon said.

Firefighters shot water into the condos and broke windows to vent the flames. They dug out some wallboard and plaster to ensure the fire was out of the walls.

By about 10:35 a.m. the fire had been knocked down, and by 11 a.m. it was out, Leon said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, he said. No one was injured.

Red Cross Alaska responded. One displaced person will be staying with a family friend. The Red Cross could not immediately contact the residents of the second damaged condo, said Beth Bennett, Red Cross spokeswoman.

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