Fire extinguisher made smokey mess at transit center, but no fire

Firefighters answer a call of smoke at Juneau’s Downtown Transit Center. A fire extinguisher had been set off in the stairwell. Photo by Kelli Burkinshaw / KTOO.

Juneau police have a suspect in connection with a fire extinguisher set off in the stairwell of the Downtown Transit Center late Wednesday afternoon.

About 4:50 p.m., Capital  City Fire and Rescue received a call about a possible fire in the parking garage, but when firefighters arrived, they found no fire, just a smoky stairwell and a potential culprit.

“He discharged the fire extinguisher so the place looked like it was filled up with smoke but it wasn’t.  We did find the guy, he’s on the third floor of the parking garage and we’re helping JPD bring him in,” Fire Marshall Dan Jager said at the scene.

Firefighters placed a a positive ventilation fan at the first floor entrance to the stairwell.

“So what we’re doing is we’re going from the ground floor and we’re going to push it up and out of the stairwell. Clears it out a lot faster,” Jager said.

In just a few minutes, the stairwell air was cleared, and a yellow, silty-type residue was left on the floor and handrails.

Firefighters placed a positive ventilation fan on the first floor entrance to the stairwell to clear out the fire extinguisher chemicals. Photo by Rosemarie Alexander / KTOO.

Juneau Police officers joined Fire Chief Rich Etheridge and other firefighters on the third floor, where they’d found a man passed out against a wall.

“He’s got the dry chemical powder on his hands and feet, so we’re pretty sure this is the gentleman. We called the JPD to come take over from here,” Etheridge said.

“Where did you find the fire extinguisher?”

“It’s on the glass awning just outside of the parking garage,” he said.

Police woke up the man, handcuffed him and put him in the back seat of a squad car to take him to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Check back for details.