February 20, 2014 | Volume 44, Number 7

Blaze razes highway home, injures man

An early-morning fire of unknown origin severely burned a man and destroyed the Marquardt home at 26 Mile Haines Highway Feb. 14.

Family members said there is nothing left of the 2,400-square-foot house but “two inches of white ash, brittle oxidized metal pieces, and puddles of glass where windows had been.” The house was assessed at $129,000.

Klehini Valley Fire Department chief Robert Clay said three people were in the house at the time of the fire, but everyone was outside by the time fire personnel arrived. One person was taken to the clinic, he said.

According to a Facebook page set up for Geri Marquardt and Larry Drake, who were in the house at the time of the fire, Drake was flown to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center Friday after sustaining third-degree burns to his head, back and hand.

Drake was scheduled to undergo a skin graft operation to his head, back and left hand Wednesday, according to the Facebook page.

Fire chief Clay, who lives at 31 Mile, said he received the call at about 1:30 a.m. and drove to the fire house located on Mosquito Lake Road at 26 Mile before heading to the Marquardt home.

“It was right around about 29 Mile that I saw the structure from the car and it was completely involved at that point. The whole time I was hoping it was something simple like a chimney fire but then I rounded the corner and was like, ‘Wow, that’s too bad,’” Clay said.

Deputy fire marshal Bob Plumb traveled to Haines to investigate the fire. Plumb did not respond to calls for comment as he is out of the office until Feb. 24.

Clay said he doesn’t know the cause of the fire or its place of origin and hasn’t yet heard from Plumb regarding the investigation.

The Klehini department used all three of its fire trucks. Two trucks were also sent up from the town department, Clay said.

The crew was able to stop the fire from spreading to a nearby 512-square-foot building also on the property, Clay said. The town crew left the scene at about 5 a.m., but Clay said he stayed to monitor the site until about 9 a.m.

Clay said he didn’t know the exact response time, but estimated it was about 25 minutes.