September 22, 2011 |

Fire destroys home, hopes; No one injured in blaze at 27 Mile, cause not known

A fire Tuesday destroyed Fred Anderson Sr.’s dream of bringing his wife home from a Sitka hospital.

Linda Anderson, his wife of 43 years, is suffering from advanced lung cancer and recently expressed interest in returning to the home the couple built together in Mosquito Lake’s Four Winds subdivision, Anderson said. He’d hauled building material there for an addition to the frame and trailer structure Monday.

"Her wish was to come home, but she won’t be coming home, especially now. Realistically, I don’t know if she could have made it. It was just the idea of what she wanted," Anderson said.

The blaze also claimed four generations of family photos and memorabilia, he said.

Anderson said he was stumped by the cause of the fire that engulfed the home around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. He’d left it around 2 p.m. Tuesday and was with two grandsons, shooting guns near 25 Mile, when the fire was reported by a neighbor.

"I saw the trooper heading out and the fire truck going by and I didn’t even think about it," Anderson said.

Anderson said the home was insured. He said he’d left a fire in the woodstove, but had dampered it down and was extremely careful with it, including keeping it clean and maintaining a carbon monoxide detector. "It was absolutely tight. It was one of the things I’m anal about."

Structures on the property are assessed by the Haines Borough at $29,850, but Anderson said the value of his loss is worth many times that, including appliances, seven rifles, computers and electronics.

Anderson has been staying at the home "on and off," in recent weeks, traveling out-of-town to be with his wife.

No cars were parked at the residence and the blaze consumed a small shed nearby. Flames charred the rafters of a separate garage building that firefighters saved.

The fire was called in by a neighbor at 4:40 p.m. and the first Klehini Valley Fire Department trucks arrived at 4:59, according to KVFD fire chief Robert Clay. Borough police reached Anderson in town about two hours later.

Chuck Mitman, a Haines firefighter who was first on scene nine minutes after the call, said the house was "fully involved" when he arrived.

"Flames already had breached the roof and the propane tank was squealing away and blowing flames out," Mitman said.

The Haines fire department sent an engine to the fire that arrived 40 minutes after the call and six town firefighters joined four from KVFD in dousing the building’s remains.

Clay said he would prepare a report on the fire for the state fire marshal. Borough fireman Al Badgley said the marshal only comes to Haines to investigate fires that involve a fatality or more than $500,000 in damage.

Investigators sometimes locate ignition sources by following a fire’s path in a structure, based on relative charring to different sections, but fire chief Clay said it would be difficult to tell how the blaze moved.

"It was all burnt. There was no area of the house that wasn’t burnt and most of it was burnt completely up," Clay said.

The trailer’s roof was caved in by the time the first fire trucks arrived. Anderson’s home sits on a hill, about 150 yards from the closest neighbor.

The Uglies, a local fraternal organization, have donated $500 to Anderson.

Anderson said he could not express enough gratitude to firefighters and police for the kindness and consideration they showed, and also was grateful to friends here who recently held a fund-raiser for his wife.