Juneau authorities investigate possible arson linked to explosion and fire

Wooden boards cover the doorway to a shed where an explosion and fire occurred Monday morning. The incident is being investigated as possible arson. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

Wooden boards cover the doorway to a shed where an explosion and fire occurred Monday morning. The incident is being investigated as possible arson. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

Authorities are investigating a case of suspected arson after an explosion and fire broke out Monday morning at a commercial building on Glacier Avenue.

According to the Juneau Police Department, multiple calls came in around 9:11 a.m. reporting an explosion and large flames coming from a storage shed on the side of the building that houses The Gym and J&J Deli.

The shed was reportedly used to store ice melt equipment.

Capital City Fire/Rescue Assistant Chief Tod Chambers said sprinklers in the shed activated, and people nearby rushed to help.

An Alaska Electric Light & Power crew and maintenance staff from Harborview Elementary School across the street managed to put out the flames with fire extinguishers before Capital City Fire/Rescue crews arrived, but the fire quickly reignited.

That’s part of why authorities think the fire may have been intentionally set.

“That’s one of the contributing factors into why, because the makeup of that particular space was fairly simple, and there was nothing that should have burned like that,” Chambers said. 

Chambers said they managed to put the fire out relatively quickly.

The fire marshal investigated the incident and determined that an explosion inside the shed caused the fire.

Chambers said the fire marshal will work with the Juneau Police Department to investigate.

“We did have a report that there was video footage from Harborview’s camera, which is a long ways away,” Chambers said. “There’s other cameras in the area that they’re going to be looking into to see if they have available footage that shows anything prior to the explosion.”

Chambers said the fire was mostly confined to the shed but the building did sustain some water damage on the lower level.

Both The Gym and J&J Deli were able to reopen Monday afternoon.

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