A house fire in Sitka caused heavy damage on Tuesday (5-5-15) before firefighters arrived to put it out, but nobody was injured — and even the family dog survived.
About thirty volunteers and staff from the Sitka Fire Department responded to the blaze at 2409 Sawmill Creek Road at about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, after several people passing by called 911.
That is the home of Kenny and Rebekah Carley, and their children Trevin, 12, and Emery, 4. Nobody was home at the time of the fire. Rebekah Carley said that was unusual. She and the kids had gone over to a friend’s house for dinner, when she heard the sound of the fire trucks responding.
“We heard the ambulances and everything,” she said. “You always think, oh God, I hope everything’s OK. And then, it’s probably 20 minutes later, people are just blowing up your phone.”
Kenny Carley, who coaches baseball, was at practice.
Carley said the couple have insurance, though they haven’t yet determined if it will cover rebuilding costs. Fire Chief Dave Miller estimated the fire destroyed about a third of the home’s top story.
The house is a duplex; the Carleys live upstairs and were just getting the downstairs apartment ready to rent out.
Carley said the main living space was largely destroyed, and many belongings spared by the fire have suffered smoke and water damage. Most of the family’s photos survived.
But, she said, “All that really matters is that we were all not even there.”
“You know, my kids, I would never want them to see that,” she added. “So, safe, sound, our dog made it — even our goldfish made it. [Laughs] Things can be replaced. Houses can be rebuilt.”
And, she said the outpouring of support from Sitkans has been overwhelming.
“We’re so taken aback by everybody’s support and willingness to do whatever,” she said. “It’s hard right now to vocalize what we need, but it’s a long process, and we know that this is a great community and we have no doubt that people are going to be there for us when we need them.”
Deputy Fire Chief Al Stevens said the fire was caused by an overloaded electrical outlet in the upstairs living room. Stevens cautioned residents to avoid adding plugs, or using power strips or extension cords and overburdening electrical circuits.
“A two-outlet circuit is designed for two things,” he said. “If you start adding, you’re taking your chances.”