Funny River fire being investigated as arson

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2003

Firefighters worked quickly in windy conditions Thursday afternoon to keep a structure fire from turning into a wildland fire on Funny River Road.

A two-story house burned to the ground. No one was injured.

Central Emergency Services and state Division of Forestry firefighters received a 911 report of a possible structure fire near Mile 9 of Funny River Road at about 5:50 p.m.

The agencies responded with two fire engines, four tankers including one from the Kenai Fire Department two emergency medical services vehicles and three command vehicles, according to CES Fire Marshall Gary Hale.

The fire was brought under control within 40 minutes and was declared out 37 minutes later Hale said, but not before the unoccupied, two-story house had been destroyed.

Hale said the building, owned by Bonita Mahan, has been vacant since 1999 and heat and electrical service had been disconnected. CES and Alaska State Troopers will conduct an arson investigation into the cause of the blaze.

According to Hale, because of windy conditions, firefighters responded with a larger than usual complement of equipment and with 29 personnel.

"We wanted to prevent the fire from spreading to a horse barn and adjacent hay fields," he said.

CES was recalled to the location Friday afternoon when state Forestry firefighters checked the site and found some material smoldering in the horse barn.

Hale said Forestry is not permitted to enter buildings so CES again responded and soaked the area.

"It appeared some horse manure was smoldering on the concrete floor of the barn and a log outside was smoldering," Hale said. It did not appear that the fire had been reset.

"Forestry will continue to keep an eye on the site for us," he said.

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