Neighbor's heads-up reaction saves house

Posted: Wednesday, August 07, 2002

An observant teen, fast action by her mother and a quick response from Central Emergency Services contributed to saving a house that caught fire in a Soldotna neighborhood Tuesday morning.

Fire damage was contained to one bedroom, part of a hallway and an exterior wall of John Junkert's home at 257 Banner. No one was home at the time of the fire.

A neighbor across the street, Kayla Mullican, 16, was returning from her mother's coffee shop in Soldotna at about 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, when she saw some smoke coming from a window of Junkert's house.

Then smoke started coming out of an attic vent and she called her mother on her cell phone. Joyce Mullican, one of the owners of Coffee Concepts on Kenai Spur Highway, immediately called 911 and fire trucks were on their way.

When firefighters arrived, they saw heavy smoke coming from the rear of the house and could not see any flames as they approached the building.

Neighbors standing on the sidewalk told firefighters that possibly two or three children were in the house. Search and rescue efforts found no one home.

The fire was declared under control within 15 minutes with fire destroying the master bedroom and its contents. The remainder of the three-bedroom house received moderate to heavy smoke and heat damage.

Fire investigators said the fire started in a bed mattress. Junkert told investigators he had been smoking a cigarette that morning and remembered setting it on an aluminum can next to the bed before he left for work.

Junkert said his two daughters were away in Washington and his son had spent the night with a relative near Soldotna Monday.

The family was displaced from the home due to unstable structure conditions. The American Red Cross was contacted to assist them.

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