Nikiski man loses home, dog in fire

Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2002

An investigation was turned over to the state fire marshal's office after a house burned down in Nikiski on Friday.

Neighbors called in and reported they heard an explosion and a loud noise at the house at Mile 2 on Wik Road.

One engine and three tankers, used to carry water, were dispatched to the scene at 6:15 p.m., said Nikiski Fire Chief Dan Gregory.

The reason for the investigation was the explosion that was heard.

"It is an unusual event to happen," Gregory said.

When fires have uncommon occurrences, such as an explosion, a fire department will investigate. In this case, Nikiski Fire Depart-ment does not have its own investigators, so it turns to the state fire marshal's office and Alaska State Troopers.

"The circumstances dictate how deeply we get involved," Deputy Fire Marshal Don Cuthbert said. "We had two corroborating stories of an explosion."

Cuthbert said when the fire department hears of explosions, it makes the "hair on your neck stand up." It could have been something stored in the house, he said.

There were no human fatalities. However, the home's resident, Randy McCafferty, did lose his 4-year-old Labrador retriever, Heffer.

McCafferty is disabled and has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he said.

"We lost everything we owned," he said of his and his girlfriend's possessions.

The biggest loss was the dog, McCafferty said.

"Everything else can be replaced."

When McCafferty arrived about an hour after the fire, he passed out, had a seizure and experienced cardiac arrest, he said.

An ambulance was dispatched to the scene. However, on the way to Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna, the ambulance hit a moose on Pickle Hill.

"It wasn't my day," McCafferty said.

He had no insurance and estimated his loss to be around $15,000.

The owners of the house, whose names have not been verified, it seems do not have insurance, Cuthbert said.

The total amount of damage to the 20-foot by 20-foot structure has yet to be determined.

The fire is still under investigation.

McCafferty is staying with friends in Kenai.

Even the last sweater he had on was cut off when he was taken to the hospital, McCafferty said.

His friends have set up an account at First National Bank of Anchorage in Kenai for people to give donations. They can be given by using McCafferty's name or to bank account No. 30186590090.

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