State investigation into Stebbins store fire begins
Amidst rubble and debris, officials hope the destruction left behind by the fire will provide some answers
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire that set Stebbins’ only store and fuel source ablaze.
The state hopes to find out what started the fire that reduced the grocery store to piles of ashes and charred metal, and also contribute to ongoing local efforts to stabilize the situation.
The fire started at approximately 5 a.m. Tuesday in the small, rural community that around 600 Alaskans call home.
Several volunteer and state organizations responded to the situation. Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Public Information Officer Jeremy Zidek commends Stebbins residents for their fortitude and adaptability when faced with potential crisis.
“People in rural communities are just more resilient by nature. They have to be to live in that environment, and so they’re very resourceful,” Zidek said. “They’re used to dealing with things on their own. They know how to fix the problems within their communities. They just need support from the outside to come in and help them implement the solutions they develop at the local level.”
State officials and local community members will start to roll out intermediate and long-term solutions, as the immediacy of the emergency wanes. Until then, residents with privately owned vehicles can travel eight miles to the neighboring community of Saint Michael to get supplies.
“At the state level, we are doing everything we can to support them,” Zidek said. “We’re monitoring the situation. So far in Stebbins, it looks like the community has an adequate response to the event.”
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that the Alaska State Fire Marshal’s Office, not the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is investigating the cause of the fire.
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