Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Christmas light short likely cause of apartment fire

 

December 5, 2019



Haines Volunteer Fire Department Chief Al Giddings said an electrical short in Christmas lights caused the apartment fire on Mathias Avenue last week that resulted in one occupant injuring herself after jumping to the ground from the building’s maintenance deck.

Independent forensics investigator Gentry Crain traveled to Haines and visited the apartment on Monday.

“He did a pretty thorough investigation,” Giddings said of Crain. “There were pretty good indicators of the fire’s burn pattern, of where it started.”

Giddings said flammable material, Christmas decoration and wrapping material, fueled the initial spark. He dismissed rumors that the fire was drug related.

“There’s no evidence it’s related to any paraphernalia, that it’s related to drugs or drug labs,” Giddings said.

Giddings said fire volunteers did a good job in preserving the scene.

Firefighters initially thought a cigarette butt may have started the fire from outside the complex.

The building’s owner, Pete Dohrn, said he’s waiting on an adjustor to determine the extent of the damage. “After that’s determined we’ll get a game plan on how we’re going to fix it,” Dohrn said.

Last week’s story incorrectly stated that two residents jumped from their window. Three occupants escaped the flames from the second story window onto a maintenance deck below. One occupant jumped from the deck, injuring herself, and the others were assisted down by fire department volunteers, Dohrn said.

 
 

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