KESA tackles Fritz Creek fire with help from Homer, Anchor Point firefighters

An intense fire last Thursday destroyed a home on East End Road in Fritz Creek, but no one was hurt.

Kachemak Emergency Services Chief Bob Cicciarella said the department was called out to the blaze about Mile 9.5 East End Road at 9:35 a.m. Thursday. One of the homeowners was in the house at the time after his wife had gone to work, Cicciarella said.

“He was home in bed and he woke up to the fire, and he said it was rolling across the ceiling in the kitchen when he went out the front door,” Cicciarella said.

By the time he arrived on the scene minutes later, Cicciarella said the home was already heavily involved. It took 20 to 30 firefighters from KESA, Homer Volunteer Fire Department and Anchor Point Fire and Emergency several hours to douse the blaze and determine it was safe to leave, he said. KESA used every vehicle from its first station as well as a rescue truck and an engine from a second station, and the mutual aid from Homer and Anchor Point brought additional apparatus with it, he said.

“It was a very hot fire — extremely hot,” he said. “There was a lot of fuel barrels in the area around the house.”

In addition to the sheer heat of the fire, Cicciarella said it was difficult because the home was located up a hill at the end of a narrow driveway, which made it more difficult to reach. Once there, firefighters found there wasn’t much room in front of the house for all the engines, tankers and other vehicles, he said.

These conditions caused water supply issues, and fighting the fire was “difficult all around,” Cicciarella said.

The home was declared a total loss. Several outbuildings, however, made it through the incident unscathed, including a chicken coop and its inhabitants. The home was not insured, Cicciarella said, but the homeowners have a trailer and a yurt.

Cicciarella said KESA believes the blaze began in the middle of the back of the house, but a cause has yet to be determined after initial inspection.

One thing Cicciarella wants to emphasize to the public is the importance of putting the local fire departments on the top of a call list during an emergency. Calling 911 should be the first priority, rather than calling a friend or a neighbor, which Cicciarella said happens more often than one would think.

Another factor people don’t often think of during an emergency is getting help afterward. Locally, the Homer Disaster Action Team sprang into action and responded to the Fritz Creek fire. Its members are also members of the American Red Cross, and they help with victim assistance on scene during an incident like a fire.

“The team members will provide the family with immediate assistance of food, clothing and shelter,” wrote Dave LaForest, captain of the Kenai Peninsula Disaster Action Team, in a release the day of the fire. “Volunteers will also help with short term needs, such as contacting other support agencies and groups within the Homer community.”

There are currently three volunteers for the Disaster Action Team that covers the lower peninsula, according to the release. They are trained and ready to respond to not only fires, but also floods and earthquakes. They work to provide lodging and financial support.

For more information about the Disaster Action Team of the lower peninsula, contact Lead Trisha Davis at 907-399-3530.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@homernews.com.

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