Alaska News

None hurt as residents are rescued from Midtown Anchorage apartment fire

No one was hurt, but about half a dozen units of a large Midtown Anchorage apartment building were damaged in a fire early Tuesday morning.

Several people were trapped for a time by the fire, reported just after 5:20 a.m. at 4611 Juneau St. near Tudor Road and the Old Seward Highway. According to a statement on the fire, units arrived within four minutes of the initial call.

"Callers reported flames were visible from the Seward Highway and occupants were trapped on several third-story balconies," AFD officials wrote. "The fire has been contained to the east side of the apartment complex with fire and smoke damage to multiple units."

The fire was first reported as "a structure fire with people entrapped in the building," according to Anchorage Fire Department Capt. Mike Guest. About 15 fire units ultimately responded to the roughly 40-unit apartment building, in what became a two-alarm fire.

Six of the building's residents were rescued from a third-floor unit, Guest said. Citizens at the scene before crews arrived used a ladder to begin evacuating the unit, with an AFD rescue crew bringing a second ladder to help.

Dozens of people were outside the building, watching as firefighters climbed into another third-floor apartment using a ladder truck.

Resident Tresa Neece said she was awakened by the blaze shortly after 5 a.m.

"I woke up with the fire alarm and came out, and there were big flames just coming out of the building," Neece said.

Video courtesy Tresa Neece

Maima Faitele, another resident, said when she and her husband first heard the sounds of the fire at around 4:30 a.m., they thought it was someone fighting and returned to bed.

Then they saw the flames.

At that point, "I started running down the hall yelling 'Fire, everyone,' " she said.

About half a dozen apartments were affected by the fire, according to Guest, with some of the building's hallways and fire doors suffering smoke damage. Guest didn't have any immediate estimate for damages from the blaze.

No word was available on the fire's cause, but AFD fire investigator Brian Balega was scheduled to visit the scene Tuesday.

Bruce Whelan, a Red Cross representative at the scene, said that based on information they received from fire officials, they expected to be providing assistance to some displaced residents.

"I'm sure we're going to have at least half a dozen families," Whelan said.

AFD spokeswoman Jodie Hettrick said the fire apparently started in an upstairs apartment, but spread to the building's attic space.

As of 8 a.m., crews had called the fire under control, but were still fighting it.

"During the overhaul we found more active fire, so we're continuing to extinguish it," Hettrick said.

Check back for updates.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed information provided by fire officials to Capt. Alex Boyd. The information, including quotes, came from Capt. Mike Guest. Additionally, an earlier version incorrectly reported that about 15 units were damaged. The actual number, according to fire officials Tuesday morning, is about six. This story has been updated.

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.