Fire damages cabin in Sterling; cigarette blamed

Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2002

A cigarette was apparently the cause of the fire that started in the bathroom of a 16-by-12-foot cabin near Mile 85 of the Sterling Highway on Tuesday, causing nearly $20,000 in damage to the structure.

The cabin, located at 38514 Ryan St., is owned by Sandra Gries of Soldotna.

The fire, which started at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, was declared officially out at 2:04 p.m.

Central Emergency Services sent three pieces of equipment to the scene, as well as seven full-time firefighters and two volunteer firefighters.

"We had to tear the walls apart," said Scott Vanzant, the head investigator for CES. "When we have a fire, we tear off the outer walls and then the Sheetrock to get to the insulation and make sure that no fires are smoldering within the walls. We have to be satisfied that there will be no restarts."

After putting out the fire, firefighters brought in thermal heat detectors to find any "hot spots" that might still exist at the fire scene. They then used fans to clear the smoke from the building.

Vanzant, who questioned the owner during the initial investigation, said that the cabin was unoccupied at the time. Gries was cleaning the structure to ready it for guests.

"She left the premises for a few minutes and may not have properly extinguished her cigarette before leaving," Vanzant said.

The fire has been ruled accidental in origin.

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