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Juneau firefighters recount Gastineau Apartment blaze

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Last week, Juneau firefighters battled a large blaze at the downtown Gastineau Apartments in Alaska's capital city, rescuing a trapped elderly civilian in the process. In the wake of the blaze, the Juneau Empire sat down with members of the Capital city Fire/Rescue team, giving the firefighters a chance to tell their story.

It all started around 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 after reports of smoke at 127 South Franklin spread. By 6 p.m. the building was “invisible behind a grey wall of smoke” and all residents were reportedly out of the building. But when firefighters Brent Clancy, Paul Kelly and Travis Larsen arrived on the scene, they were told a couple was trapped on the third-story of the building. Clancy, Kelly and Travis formed a search party and began with the apartment's stairwells, before moving up to the third floor.

At the second to last apartment on the third floor Clancy found an elderly man in the bathroom, his face obscured by the mask of a home oxygen tank. Clancy told the Juneau Empire, "I think he was in just as much shock as I was,” adding, "It’s not everyday you find a fireman busting in your door.”

Clancy gathered the man, telling him the building was on fire and he would have to leave. But the building's hallway was now impassible, obscured behind a thick curtain of smoke.

In order to safely evacuate the man, the firefighters called for an extension ladder before escorting him out of the building through a third-story window. The man was successfully exited, but he suffered shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital after arriving on the ground.

According to the Empire, five people were brought to the emergency room during the nine-hour fire. All five were treated and released.