Even after suspect arrest, victims of Two Rivers arson continue to struggle

Just beyond the burned rubble of Don and Virginia McKee's old home, they are building a new...
Just beyond the burned rubble of Don and Virginia McKee's old home, they are building a new home. As winter quickly approaches, the home is far from being finished.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 3:37 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Thursday Alaska State Troopers arrested 17-year-old Jamison Gallion, charging him with starting multiple fires in the Two Rivers area.

With a suspect in custody, troopers say the threat of fire is over. However, for victims of the fire, life is far from normal.

Don and Virginia McKee’s home, workshop and two rental units burned in an arson on July 3. Two months later work on their new home is far from over. “The reality is, it’s not over as far as we have a lot of work to do. We’re moving into our new house and it has got plastic walls,” Don said, adding, “At best we will be finished late next summer. But we will be moving into it very soon.”

Once they get the electric hooked up, he said they will move into the empty room. The house will keep them warm while they to work to finish it.

Don said that building a new home won’t replace everything they lost, “In buildings and tools, equipment, vehicles, upwards of $2.5 million in today’s values.” The McKees say they could have stayed in their home for two years and never gone to the store, now they have nothing.

With winter fast approaching, making their new home livable is critical. They said they would not even had a home without the help of the community that came to help them put the roof over the building.

“We live in the most wonderful community,” Don said, and Virginia added, “The generosities of this community in helping us get this roof on is absolutely overwhelming.”

Don said the fires have made the community stronger, “I feel we will be back, we being the whole neighborhood, much stronger a lot of different ways.”

With everyone watching out for each other, the McKees said it wouldn’t be a good idea to try something like arson in the community for a long time.

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