Officials Investigate Big Midtown Anchorage Apartment Fire

Investigators are trying to figure out the cause of a fire that burned a 24-unit apartment building in Midtown Anchorage Thursday morning. Officials say the building is uninhabitable and an investigation is underway.

Flames ripped through a 24-unit midtown Anchorage apartment building this morning. Al Tamagni, a spokesperson for the Anchorage Fire Department, says when crews arrived at the Calais Arms apartments, they saw smoke and fire coming from the roof and from the third floor.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

“Units got here, saw fire heavily involved on the roof. They did call for a second alarm with additional resources. Crews have been actively fighting the fire. We have approximately 25 pieces apparatus here at this point,” Tamagni said.

Crews responded to 911 calls around 8:40 a.m. More than 60 fire fighters fought the blaze. The fire was under control around 10:30. Tamagni says no one died, but two people were transported to a local hospital. No word yet on their condition. Several pets did die in the fire.

“They went in and did a last check for hot spots or anything like that. They did find some deceased pets and they are doing an investigation as to the cause of the fire and the damage estimate for the building. We don’t have a time frame for that,” Tamagni said.

Two cars were also damaged in the blaze and several surrounding buildings were evacuated. Those nearby residents have been allowed to return home. About 25 people from the burned apartment building were initially taken to a nearby church but have relocated to the Spenard Recreation Center where the Red Cross is assisting them. Dawn Brantley is the Emergency Programs Manager for the office of Emergency Management with the municipality of Anchorage. She’s working with the Red Cross of Alaska to shelter those displaced by the fire.

“There’s only eight families there as of about 1 o’clock this afternoon. We’re not sure if that’s going to increase or decrease as people come back from work,” Brantley said.

Brantley says the best way to support people in the shelter is by giving directly to the Red Cross.

“They are providing individuals who have lost everything in this fire with a debit card to help replace clothing, to help cover the cost of food. So cash is always the best donation because it can be used for anything and anyone,” Brantley said.

In addition the Red Cross is taking donations of new blankets and pillows at the Spenard Recreation Centers where the victims of the fire are being sheltered.

From the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management:

The Red Cross of Alaska has assisted 16 residents who were affected by this morning’s apartment complex fire. They are providing shelter to 10 residents and have received an outpouring of material donations. Wal-Mart donated lunch and supplies to affected residents, and the Salvation Army is providing lunch, dinner and breakfast. The Red Cross is assisting people with finding new homes and providing some financial support to help residents who have lost everything.

Animal Care & Control has taken in 3 deceased cats, 4 live cats, and two live fish.  The cats were all from two identified apartments and Animal Control is working to contact owners.  Owners missing animals should contact animal control to fill out a Lost Report.

Lost Reports can be filed on the phone (343-8122) or online on our website,, but the best way is to come in to the shelter to fill it out and look through new lost animals that have come into the shelter.  Owners are the best person to identify their pets and we encourage owners to come into the shelter at least every 2-3 days to look for lost pets.  It is very helpful to have a photo of your pet with you.

The best way to help residents affected by this fire is to donate to the Red Cross of Alaska. Donations can be made online at

Anyone with questions about the shelter or ways to help can call 2-1-1.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage.

Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email.

Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.

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