Smoking caused fire

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2002

The cause of a Monday morning fire at the Kaknu Apartments in Kenai was determined to be smoking-related, according to fire investigators.

"Smoking materials caught the bedding on fire and that ignited the bed," Kenai Fire Marshal James Baisden said Thursday.

Baisden also said that although smoke detectors had been installed in the apartment, they were not working at the time of the fire.

Three brothers, the fiancee of one and an aunt were awakened Monday morning by the fire that destroyed the apartment. Two brothers suffered minor injuries as the family fled the building.

Firefighters from Kenai and Nikiski brought the fire in the 36-unit apartment building under control within minutes of their arrival.

The oldest brother, David Gattenby, 25, said the family lost everything, however.

"The American Red Cross and Alaska Housing is helping to find them a place to stay," Baisden said.

Asked about the smoke detectors not working, Baisden said, "The way the code is written, the smoke detectors have to be working when occupants move in, but then it becomes the responsibility of the occupants to keep them working.

"The problem with older buildings like this is that they were only required to have one smoke detector outside each sleeping room. Then, if smoke was coming from something cooking in the kitchen or something, it would set off the detector and people would disconnect them."

Changes in building codes now require combinations of battery-operated and hard-wired smoke detectors and placement of them inside sleeping rooms as well as outside, Baisden said.

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