College Inn catches fire a second time

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 10:47 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The College Inn on Fairbanks St. caught fire, late Sunday night, July 24. The fire was reported to the emergency services at 11:02 p.m. with units on site shortly after.

The University Fire Department, Fairbanks Fire Department and Fort Wainwright Fire Department all responded to the blaze. Suppression did not take long with the fire being labeled as contained after about one hour. The fire was later reported as extinguished at 2:36 a.m. Monday, July 25.

Greg Coon, the Battalion Chief for the University Fire Department said the small size of the fire combined with overhead access to flames helped the firefighters stop the burn as quickly as they did. This was accomplished using aerial attack and deck guns.

The overhead access wouldn’t have been available however if it wasn’t for the same building catching fire on September 9, 2019. The first fire also diminished the available fuels for Sunday’s fire. Coon said this latest incident was about “a quarter” the size of the first fire and limited to the second floor of the structure.

When discussing the cause of the incident, Coon said he believes, “It was vagrants. Here over the last several years it seems that the fires related to vagrants occupying normally uninhabited structures has become a bigger problem. As we were searching for occupants we did find evidence that there are or have been people staying or living here on site.” This included a generator among other unspecified items.

With this second burn, Coon commented on the occurrence of vagrant-based fires saying, “Basically we suspected this would happen and we knew from some previous calls in the area that there were vagrants in there. Sometimes you have a list of buildings that are on your radar to be expecting to have another event. This one was certainly on it because what happens when the buildings have been vacated from their normal occupancy, typically the power is off and the heat is off. So people are using unconventional methods to cook and to heat, and then also sometimes they’re up to some nefarious activities. So, any one of those circumstances tends to [increase] the likelihood that there is going to be a fire.”

This July 24 fire is still under investigation.

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