Nome hotel fire casualty identified; cause of fire under investigation

Nome’s volunteer firefighters spray what remains of the Polaris Hotel earlier Thursday to cool off the site before investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrive. (Photo courtesy John Handeland)
Nome’s volunteer firefighters spray what remains of the Polaris Hotel earlier Thursday to cool off the site before investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrive. (Photo courtesy John Handeland)

The body of a woman was found Wednesday and identified in the aftermath of the Polaris Hotel fire in Nome.

The body of Bette Ann Haugen, 63, of Nome was recovered from the debris of the burnt-out Polaris building Tuesday evening.

Haugen’s body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy.

Although the fire was extinguished, one Nome fire truck and crew were spraying what remains of the hotel earlier today to cool off the hotspots before investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrived.

Two investigators are conducting an onsite investigation into the cause of the fire, Alaska Department of Public Safety spokesperson Megan Peters said. Once their work is done at the scene, they will return to Anchorage.

Peters is unsure of how long the investigators will be in Nome or when they will release information on what caused the fire.

For now, the City of Nome’s Department of Public Works has secured the Polaris Hotel building. Damages from the fire are estimated to be over $750,000, according to a statement from the city.

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