Correction: This story has been updated to correct a quote by Kachemak Emergency Services Chief Bob Cicciarella saying the Hancock Drive fire was “one of the toughest ones I’ve fought in my 45 years plus career.”
Firefighters this month saved two homes near East End Road in the Kachemak Emergency Services Area.
In a May 7 fire, KESA with mutual aid from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department battled six hours to keep a Hancock Drive home from burning. A week later they stopped a Newell Court kitchen fire from spreading into the walls.
“The guys worked so hard, both Homer firefighters and KESA firefighters,” said KESA fire chief Bob Cicciarella on Monday. “One guy couldn’t lift his arm (after) using the chainsaw over his head.”
In the Hancock Drive incident, firefighters responded about 11:18 p.m. to a fire coming from a wood-shake roof in the two story home. On the Kachemak Bay side near Mile 5 East End Road, that home had an unusual roof construction, with 3 inches of foam above tongue-and-groove and then covered with wood strapping and cedar shakes. Firefighters attacked the fire from below by cutting away sections with chainsaws to keep the fire from spreading through the foam. They also hosed water down from the peak with the KESA ladder truck. Cicciarella said they would have lost the house without the ladder truck.
“It was a tough one — one of the toughest ones I’ve fought in my 45 years plus career,” he said.
HVFD provided 12 firefighters to supplement the eight crew from KESA. An HVFD tanker-pumper also responded. KESA had the ladder truck and two tanker pumpers. The tanker-pumper trucks kept shuttling water from a City of Homer fire hydrant near the intersection of East End Road and Kachemak Drive.
“It was just a really good coordinated effort by both departments,” Cicciarella said.
The Hancock Drive home had a lot of water and smoke damage, with the fire destroying the roof and heavily damaging two upstairs bathrooms. Cicciarella said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but suspected a hot chimney too close to a chase through the roof might have been the cause.
In the Newell Court fire, a gas cook top caught fire at the home off Greer Road east of Fritz Creek. It was called in by a neighbor — also the homeowner’s mother — at about 5:40 p.m. May 14. Cicciarella said the mother saw smoke coming from the kitchen and called her daughter and 911. The daughter wasn’t home but was nearby, and both women went in and knocked the flames down with fire extinguishers before firefighters arrived.
“It’s not always a good thing to run in, but they did get the active flame held down,” Cicciarella said.
Coincidentally, Cicciarella had just passed Greer Road on East End Road when he got the page. The fire had spread from the cook top into exterior walls.
“It was hot enough it cracked the outside window and sink and counter area,” Cicciarella said.
The Newell Court fire damaged the kitchen and exterior walls, but firefighters saved the home. Cicciarella said the cause remains investigation, but he suspects an electrical wire stretched tight may have been frayed. There was nothing cooking on the stove.