Bayside Volunteer Fire Department responded to its third fire in seven days early Tuesday morning. Bayside Engine 10 was first to respond to chimney fire in the log-cabin style home on Pruitt Lane at around 3:30 a.m, Bayside Fire Chief Howard Rue said.
“From what we figure, the fire probably started up in around the stack, got into a void behind it and ran up the side,” Rue said. “The insulation melted and the wall caught on fire before it went up underneath the tin roof and burned into the rafters of the house. It didn’t burn all the away into the house.”
Residents of the home were safely evacuated, confirmed Rue.
The volunteer engine crew established water lines to attack the blaze, while Rue called for mutual aid from the City of Kodiak Fire Department. KFD Engine 2 was the next unit on scene, followed by Bayside Water Tender 11 and Engine 11.
Rue said that firefighters had to break out their saws and cut through the metal roof to access the fire.
“The fire was contained under the roof but it was running,” Rue said. “Once we started opening it up, we got flames coming out … There was damage to the building’s exterior wall and the center part of the metal roof where we cut, as well as the sheathing and rafters.”
The house sustained an estimated $150,000 in damage, according to Rue.
The fire was officially declared around at around 5:45 a.m. and firefighters had returned to the station by 7 a.m.
Rue said that the response time was delayed by about five minutes due to the lack of a visible address. Rue said he had call dispatch after he could not locate the house.
“I told them I could smell smoke but couldn’t see a fire,” Rue said.
He was told by dispatch that he would need to look for one of the residents to wave him in.
Rue said other homes on Pruitt Lane and in surrounding neighborhoods have the same apparent lack of visible address signs.
“If anyone has been on Pruitt Lane, (they’ll know) it’s a very narrow, one-lane dirt road that is in the back of woods with a lot of homes in the area,” Rue said. He noted that Bayside has received calls for several banya and home fires in that area over the past several years.
Rue has advocated for visible address signs in the past. During a presentation to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly on Feb. 7, Rue stated residents should upgrade their address signs to be more visible from the street so firefighters and EMTs can better locate them in an emergency.
He also told the Assembly he had been responding to an ambulance call when he encountered a similar problem to the Tuesday morning fire. In that instance, the home and its address had been obscured by a Connex structure.
Rue said on Tuesday that Bayside Volunteer Fire Department plans to launch a house address sign program in the near future, but added that the details are still being hammered out.