Ketchikan apartment fire displaces at least 3 households

A white, wood-frame apartment building fully engulfed in flames
An apartment building fire left at least three households without a place to stay on Saturday in Ketchikan. (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Henry)

At least three households have been displaced following a Saturday afternoon structure fire that badly damaged a downtown Ketchikan apartment building. Officials said they believed the building’s residents had escaped the fire next to Ketchikan’s courthouse.

Ketchikan Fire Marshal Gretchen O’Sullivan says the call came in shortly after 3:30 p.m and the fire department dispatched engines and an ambulance.

“When they came on scene, they reported a fully involved structure fire. When I got here, fire was burning out the top floor,” she said shortly before 5 p.m. “Everybody has been reportedly out of the building.”

Crews from the North Tongass and South Tongass Fire Departments joined the effort as well.

O’Sullivan said the three-story building was thought to contain at least three apartments. She said she believed the structure would be left uninhabitable.

Three firefighters in front of a ladder truck with its ladder raised
Fire Marshal Gretchen O’Sullivan, right, speaks with firefighters as crews work to mop up an apartment building fire on Saturday. (Photo by Eric Stone/KRBD)

Cindy Castanon says she was helping her daughter move out of the building when the fire broke out.

“I was in the kitchen, and I smelled smoke, and I heard the breaker pop, so I went into where the breaker was, and I heard the glass pop,” she said.

Her daughter, Jennifer Neumeister, says she was returning from her car when she saw fire coming from a window.

She says she ran upstairs, and she and her mom grabbed her four-year-old daughter and got out as quickly as they could.

“Thank God my family was there to help get her out,” Neumeister said.

Fire crews were still mopping up as of 5 p.m Saturday.

O’Sullivan said the department had been in touch with the Red Cross to help the displaced families find a place to stay. She said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

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