Eagle Knocks Out Power; Juneau Airport Evacuated

Dozens of people and their luggage waiting in the parking lot. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)
Dozens of people and their luggage waiting in the parking lot. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Approximately 100 passengers and employees were evacuated Monday morning when the smell of diesel fumes started to fill the Juneau International Airport terminal shortly after a power outage occurred in Mendenhall Valley.

Acting Airport Manager Patty deLaBruere said during the sweep, firefighters from Capital City Fire and Rescue  noticed an additional smokey smell toward the back of the building and continued to investigate.

“When the power went out at the airport and throughout the valley, one of the things we noted was that the generators were not coming on for the airport. And shortly thereafter there was a very strong burnt diesel smell throughout the terminal in very specific parts. Se we elected to evacuate the terminal based on that even when the power did come back up. While the fire department was doing a search, we had that diesel smell finally dissipate.”

While passengers standing in the parking lot could see the ladder from the CCFR ladder truck moving around the airport tower, most passed the time on their cellphones.

Employees were brought back in to the building to get computer equipment set up shortly after 11 a.m. Passengers  started wheeling in their luggage at 11:43 a.m.

deLaBruere said firefighters did not locate any fire in the building, but fumes in the back area of the boiler room may have been the cause of the burnt diesel smell.

“But they were fairly confident that it did dissipate out and that’s why they’ve given us the all clear. They have not found any other sources,” deLaBruere said as people were re-entering the terminal.

No flights were affected.

Original Story: June 3, 2013 – 11:59 a.m.

Juneau International Airport was evacuated this morning due to the smell of diesel and smoke in the building.

There was no smoke or fire; instead a power outage was the culprit. According to Acting Airport Manager Patty deLaBruere, once the power came back on, airport generators did not start, and burnt diesel could be smell throughout the building.

Firefighters arrived and so did KTOO reporter Heather Bryant.  She reports the airport was evacuated, with staff, passengers and luggage waiting outside while firefighters did a sweep, shortly before 11 a.m.

“When the firefighters began their sweep they started to notice another smoky type smell at the back of the building, so at this time they’re still sweeping the floors and the road  as well, trying to determine  the location of that smoke,” Bryant said from the airport.

 People were allowed back into the building about 11:45 a.m.  deLaBruere says the smell appears to have been caused by a buildup of fumes in the boiler room.

The power went out at 10:17 Monday morning, affecting a large area from Lemon Creek through the Mendenhall Valley and out Glacier Highway, according to Alaska Electric Light and Power spokeswoman Deb Ferriera.  She says an eagle lost his lunch.

“Essentially an eagle picked up some garbage from the landfill and flew over the transmission line and whatever it was holding in its talons came in contact with the transmission line, opening basically all the feeders from lemon Creek all the way out the road,” she says.

Ferriera says an AELP crew in a bucket truck cleared the line and power was restored by 11:02.

This story was updated with comments from Acting Airport Manager Patty deLaBruere.

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