SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


House Fire: Troopers "Heroes" says Fire Chief


November 06, 2009

Ketchikan, Alaska - Chief Dave Hull of the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department said fire caused about $50,000 to $75,000 damage to a house at 89 Jenck Road, belonging to Frank and Melissa Garrison and sent the woman and a trooper to Ketchikan General Hospital with smoke inhalation. A child in the house at the time of the fire was uninjured said Hull. Frank. Garrison was out of town. Units from North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department and Alaska State Troopers responded to the scene. The first arriving Alaska State Troopers were the heroes of incident said Hull.

The original call came in to Ketchikan Police Department Dispatch late Thursday evening as an open line 911 call that was immediately transferred over to Alaska State Troopers dispatch. First arriving Alaska State Troopers, Zach Huckstep and Jack LaBlanc, believed the call to be a possible domestic violence call due to the way the call came in said Chief Hull. After discovering the true nature of the call the officers immediately asked for fire and EMS response. Trooper Huckstep broke the door down and was able to pull the unconscious woman from the residence and then reentered the house to find and bring out the baby said Hull. NTVFD fire and EMS were toned out at 2320 to respond to the house fire and later (at 2324) was updated with the report of an unresponsive female said Hull.

jpg Fire caused about $50,000 to $75,000 damage to at house  at 89 Jenck Road, belonging to Frank and Melissa Garrison.

Fire caused about $50,000 to $75,000 damage to a house
at 89 Jenck Road, belonging to Frank and Melissa Garrison.
Photograph courtesy NTVFD

Hull said the troopers began breathing for the woman with a bag-valve-mask device when NTVFD personnel, FF/EMT 2 Jessie Hook, arrived on scene. Hull said the baby was taken to a neighbor and put in their care. M-8 and E-8 arrived on scene and the woman was immediately put into M-8 and transported to Ketchikan General Hospital's Emergency Room. Trooper Huckstep was transported in stable condition to the ER by NTVFD personnel with smoke inhalation and increasing hoarseness and coughing said Hull.

Chief Hull said the woman regained conciseness at the Emergency Room and was able to explain how the fire started. She was burning trash in their fireplace insert when something flashed and caught pillows and bedding that was near the hearth on fire. The bedding was there to protect the baby from injury in case of a fall against the hearth. The woman took the baby back to the bedroom, put the baby in the crib and closed the door as she returned to the front room to attempt to extinguish the fire. She found the phone and dialed 911 but became overcome with smoke inhalation and fell to the floor unconscious before being able to give details of the emergency. She was found unconscious on the front room floor near the kitchen by Trooper Huckstep who crawled in under the smoke and heat to rescue her said Hull.

North Tongass Volunteer Fire personnel overhauled the fire area and extinguished hot spots. Structural damage to the house was minor with extensive smoke and heat damage throughout the kitchen, front room and hallway, into the master bedroom said Hull. Smoke and heat travel was blocked in the bedroom that the baby was in because the woman closed the door before returning to the front room. This simple act protected the child from the heat and smoke. Smoke detectors, one at the end of the hallway and one next to the kitchen were both disabled. One was without a battery and the other was unplugged said Hull.

Hull said the fire destroyed a recliner that was sitting right next to the fireplace insert and burnt through the floor with some dropdown into the lower basement. There was some charring of the studs behind the veneer rock wall surrounding the insert. Structural damage was minimal. Heat damage was seen down to the backs of the couch and chairs in the front room. Blinds in the kitchen, washroom and master bed room were also melted from the heat. Trooper Huckstep reported a lot of heat when he entered the structure crawling on the floor.

Hull reported that the baby was fine and added that even the fish in the aquarium survived.

A total of 12 NTVFD personnel responded with an engine, ambulance and a pumper/tanker to the call along with the two troopers from AST. All personnel were clear of the scene at 0115 said Hull.

Chief Hull said, "the personnel of NTVFD would like to remind everyone that smoke detectors save lives but cannot function if they are disabled. If you are having difficulty with a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector to please call the department for help before disabling the device. Often time it is a simple solution to move the detector to a different location in the residence."



Source of News & Photograph:

North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department


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Ketchikan, Alaska