The Point MacKenzie General Store and Cafe southwest of Wasilla burned early Thursday, generating a massive call-out for firefighters and water tankers, fire officials said.
Still, there were no injuries reported and the store did not burn as heavily as the first witnesses indicated, said Fire Chief James Steele of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department.
A 911 call from the store, a food and gas stop on West Point MacKenzie Road about 25 miles from downtown Wasilla, came in a little after 5:30 a.m., Steele said.
"The original report was structure was fully involved, possibly with people trapped," Steele said. "The first units saw heavy smoke, flames coming from the rear of the structure and smoke from the eaves of the structure. And this is a two-story structure, so the flames were coming from the first and second floors."
Fire units from six of Central Mat-Su's stations rushed to the scene, as well as water tankers from the West Lake and Houston fire departments, Steele said. A person in an apartment upstairs and a worker opening up the store for the morning escaped on their own, the fire chief said.
Smoke, heat and water damaged the building, but the actual flames did not spread as widely as firefighters originally thought, Steele said.
"Realistically, it was probably, and this is going to be a guess, about 15 percent involved, in actual flame damage," he said. "Definitely the store will be closed for a while."
Area fire crews have been busy recently: The Thursday-morning blaze is their fourth structure fire in a week-and-a-half, Steele said. That includes the Matanuska Maid building fire in Palmer and two residences elsewhere, he said.
Reach Casey Grove at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News