Fire engulfs Fourth Avenue five-plex
Spectators marveled at billowing black smoke coming out as flames gutted most of a yellow housing complex near East 4th Avenue and Steadman Sunday evening.
Nome Volunteer Fire Dept. got the call around 5:30 p.m., according to staff, and fought the blaze until around 11:30 p.m. and then mopped up and cleaned equipment until 2:30 a.m., according to Jay Wieler, firefighter, Monday.
Firefighters said the building comprised a number of add-on sections along with nooks, crannies and voids that allowed the fire to take twists and turns that made controlling the blaze a challenge. As in other older sections of town, builders put structures close together in the neighborhood of the fire, causing several firefighters to speculate that a strong wind would have fanned the destruction through the residential area. When firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed the southwest corner of the building.
Because of placement of firefighting equipment, Nome Joint Utility System personnel could not gain access to the southwest corner of the structure to shut off electrical service, according to John K. Handeland, utility manager.
“We had to temporarily cut off one of the power feeders to the community, City Feeder No. 2, pending access to cut the service to the building to make it safe for firefighters,” he said. According to information he had from firefighters, the fire was so hot that smoke detectors had melted off the ceiling and hit the floor, Handeland added.
The fire left a shell for the west end of the building while the east end of the five units took smoke and water damage. Heat from the fire melted siding on the building west of the damaged building.
Bruce Kittess owns the building and has been fixing it up. Previous to Kittess, former police officer Bill Quirion was an owner of the structure.
City of Nome tax rolls show the assessed value of the structure at $181,500. Cause of the fire was not clear earlier this week, but there were informal reports of a barbecue on a deck having gone bad. However, one firefighter discounted that information, saying instead that the fire had started under the building.
A phone call found Nome Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Jim West Jr. in Portland, Ore. The chief had traveled to Portland to inspecting new firefighting equipment due to arrive at Nome’s port causeway on the September barge, according to West.
The shiny 2016 pumper truck can hold 2,000 gallons of water, a capacity that will better allow the brigade to fight fires in areas off the fire hydrant system.
Modifications to the truck ordered by NVFD have been completed.