Spenard apartment fire: investigation closed, cause unknown

Tegan Hanlon
Bob Hallinen

Anchorage firefighters have closed the investigation into the Spenard apartment fire that displaced at least 30 residents, but the cause of the blaze remains unknown, the fire department said.

Investigators believe the Jan. 13 fire started near a second-floor kitchen in the building at 1637 W. 32nd Ave. before ripping through four other units, said Al Tamagni, an Anchorage Fire Department spokesman.

"Beyond that, there's just not much else there," he said.

Extensive damage and structural difficulties delayed investigation for at least a week. Initial damage to the complex is estimated at about $500,000 and content loss at about $400,000, according to the department. No one was injured in the fire.

Tamagni said while firefighters do not know what caused the fire, they don't expect any foul play. "It's undetermined. There was nothing left for them to check because it was all burned."

Justin Sisich, the owner of the apartment complex, said Wednesday that the building will stay locked down while the insurance company continues its investigation.

"It's a slow process when you're dealing with people's belongings and insurance," he said. "It feels like it was a while ago, but it's still pretty new."

Of the 16 units, four were engulfed by flames and another four had extensive smoke damage. Half the building will likely be rebuilt, he said.

Residents have all moved out from the scorched building. Some to friends or family's homes and some to new apartments. Others have relocated to neighboring buildings in the Anchorage Sands Apartments complex.

"It's tough to see some of my tenants displaced like this," Sisich said.

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