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Fire scorches South Anchorage condominium building

Rosemary Shinohara,Richard Mauer
A fire burned two condo units at Kandlewood Park in South Anchorage. Capt. Alex Boyd sifts through some of the debris from the fire.

A fire in a South Anchorage apartment building Thursday morning sent one person to the hospital with smoke inhalation, Anchorage Fire Department spokesman Sue Rodman said.

The fire was in the Kandlewood Park condominiums at 2440 Sentry Drive off Lake Otis Parkway, just south of Abbott Road.

Two of an estimated 30 units, one on the second floor and one directly above it on the third, were heavily burned and others were damaged by smoke and water. Michelle Houlihan, chief executive of the Red Cross of Alaska, said fire department officials had determined that the two units were uninhabitable and were still assessing four neighboring apartments. The Red Cross was assisting two residents, and volunteers were preparing to help others as they returned home from work to discover the damage to their homes, Houlihan said.

Among the first on scene around 8 a.m. was fire Capt. Mike Stumbaugh of Engine Co. 11 on Dimond Boulevard. He said the back balconies of the two units were in flames.

Stumbaugh said that callers had reported that residents were trapped by the fire. He and several others entered the building and raced up the stairs, but the unit where the trapped people were reported was vacant and not involved in the fire. Instead, the fire was burning in two other units, he said. A resident got out on his own but had to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. His condition wasn't immediately available.

It took about 15 minutes to extinguish the fire, though firefighters worked on hot spots for some time after, Stumbaugh said.

"It was tragic for the people who live here, but for us it was pretty run of the mill," Stumbaugh said.

Doug Christine, a computer programmer, was getting ready to go to work when the building's fire alarm went off. He rents a first-floor unit just below the two that were burning.

He ran out in his bare feet and was outside for 45 minutes.

"It was a little cold," he said, while sipping black coffee at the Red Cross disaster truck on the scene.

Chandra and Manuel Ramos, both school bus drivers, found their unit next door had extensive water damage. Chandra Ramos said the building managers had just tested fire alarms on Friday.

Manuel Ramos was at nearby Hanshew Middle School between bus runs when he heard about the fire. He hurried home, but had to return to his bus a few minutes later to start his elementary school route.

"I did my job," he said.

A total of 36 firefighters and 14 units responded.

The fire department didn't yet know the cause or in which unit the fire started.


By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA and RICHARD MAUER
Anchorage Daily News