Fire destroys hangar at Nikiski airstrip

Posted: Thursday, January 04, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- A hangar burned to the ground at the McGahan airstrip in Nikiski early Tuesday.

Hangar owner Merrill McGahan said the transformer and controls for the runway lights were in the 40-by-60-foot building. The runway lights were out Tuesday morning, but he hoped to get another transformer soon and fix them.

The fire destroyed two pickup trucks parked inside the hangar. There were no injuries. No aircraft were in the hangar, which was being leased by someone performing vehicle maintenance.

Nikiski Fire Chief Bill Harris said the fire was discovered about 6:30 a.m. by two men who came to prepare their plane for a flight to Anchorage. The roof already was caving in when they arrived.

''If they hadn't seen it, it would have burned to the ground before anyone saw it,'' Harris said.

The Nikiski Fire Department sent an engine, two tanker trucks, a rescue truck and 15 firefighters to extinguish the blaze. However, the building was too far gone to save.

The fire may have started in or near gas-fired heaters in the ceiling, Harris said, but there wasn't enough left for investigators to determine the cause. The hangar was a wood-framed building with metal sheeting inside and out and urethane insulation.

''What really took it was the urethane,'' Harris said.

Harris estimated the value of the burned trucks at about $20,000 but had no estimate for the value of the building.

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