Unalaska firefighters battle daylong blaze

Tegan Hanlon

State investigators arrived in Unalaska on Thursday after a blaze ripped through a local warehouse, busying firefighters for more than 13 hours.

Reports of smoke billowing off the roof of a warehouse on East Point Road began around 5:15 a.m. Wednesday. Firefighters responded, many of them volunteers, to a building with metal siding, locked doors and no windows, said the city's fire chief, Abner Hoage.

"Access was very limited," Hoage said. "We had to force doors and cut into the door to even begin firefighting. There was no alarm sounding. We had no idea how long the fire had been going on for, so it wasn't safe to put anyone on the roof."

So firefighters went on the defensive, just trying to keep the flames contained at the warehouse leased by Pacific Stevedoring Inc., a trucking company. They evacuated three buildings nearby, including a dormitory that houses some of the company's employees, Hoage said.

About 18 firefighters responded throughout the day, along with the department's two engines and one ladder truck. They were pouring about 3,000 gallons of water on the flames every minute from 5:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., he said.

Eventually the fire department had to bring in an excavator and strip the siding off one side of the warehouse. Inside the building were highly flammable products like wooden pallets, wax-coated fiberboard and tar-coated buoy line for black cod fishing.

By 7 p.m., the fire was under control. Firefighters ushered people back into the evacuated buildings. The warehouse remained standing, but with extensive damage, Hoage said.

The state investigators will determine just how extensive that damage is and what caused the stubborn fire.

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