Kachemak Emergency Services Area firefighters responded to two fires on Jan. 10 and 11. In an example of the breadth of the 214-square-mile service area on the lower Kenai Peninsula, one fire was a shop fire at the east end off Basargin Road near Razdolna and another a house fire at the west end on Belnap Road in Diamond Ridge.
According to a press release, on the morning of Jan. 10, KESA firefighters went to a 50-foot-by-40-foot commercial boat building shop fire off Basargin Road. Fourteen KESA staff responded with an aerial ladder truck, a tanker/pumper, a tanker and an ambulance. and 14 KESA Personnel. Homer Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid with two tanker/pumpers and six firefighters.
About 2,000 gallons of resin, acetone, fiberglass and falling debris created unsafe conditions for firefighters who fought the fire for almost seven hours before getting it under control, said KESA Fire Chief Bob Cicciarella, also the incident commander at the fire. He said he had to constantly access the situation.
“This was a tough fire to fight,” Cicciarella said. “… After an hour or so, I gave the pull-back order to firefighters thinking we had ample time to clear the collapse zone. The intense heat and other factors caused the roof, side and back walls to come down while the front wall collapsed right towards all of us, sending firefighters and command staff scrambling for cover.”
The collapse caused a minor injury to one firefighter when the edge of the roof grazed his shoulder and arm as it came down. No one else was injured.
The Jan. 11 fire on Belnap Drive fire involved a two-story residential structure occupied by two people and a cat. All escaped without injury, Cicciarella said. When firefighters arrived there were flames and heavy smoke coming from the side of the house and roof.A KESA engine, tanker, aerial, rescue and ambulance responded along with 12 KESA personnel. HVFD responded with a tanker/pumper and five firefighters.
The local chapter of the American Red Cross helped the occupants.
“KESA Deputy Chief Joe Sallee responded with the first-in engine and was able to get a quick knock-down that ultimately saved that house,” Cicciarella said. “Although there was significant damage to one side, I believe the home is repairable.”
The Belnap fire appeared to have started near or around the fireplace. The Basargin road fire is still under investigation.
Cicciarella praised the responders for their efforts.
“I am so proud of these volunteers both KESA and HVFD alike who go into the weekend with little rest to do their job and never complain,” he said. “If you come across one around town, you should say thank you. I do, every day.”