Kotzebue’s Bayside Restaurant goes down in flames during winter storm

The remains of the Bayside Restaurant after a fire burned through the building on Nov. 5, 2020. (Wesley Early/ KOTZ)

A restaurant in Kotzebue is likely a total loss after a blaze Thursday morning. The popular Bayside Restaurant sat on Kotzebue’s Shore Avenue, overlooking the Kotzebue Sound. 

“At this time, there are reports that there may have been one person in the building, who at this time they cannot account for,” said Kotzebue City Manager Tom Atkinson on Thursday afternoon.

Atkinson said no responders were injured and they are cleaning up the smoky rubble from the popular restaurant. Bayside was housed in a two-story building with a residence on top. 

During the morning, smoke and heavy blowing snow filled the air near the site, covering the area with a thick white and gray cloud.

Atkinson says the fire started burning at around 5:30 a.m. As of about 2 p.m. Thursday, officials don’t know the cause. Heavy winds battered Kotzebue all morning, at speeds from 40 to up to 65 miles an hour, according to the National Weather Service. 

But Atkinson said it’s those winds that kept the fire away from the Nullaġvik Hotel and a nearby residence. 

flames seen through a haze with a firefighter walking by
A flame erupts at the Bayside Restaurant in Kotzebue on the morning of Nov. 5 2020. (Wesley Early/KOTZ)

“The wind is blowing directly out to the [Kotzebue] Sound which is blowing it away from either structure on either side of the Bayside Restaurant.”

The fire died down Thursday afternoon. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning through Friday evening at 6:00 p.m. for most of the Northwest Arctic Borough.

Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org

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