FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Eighteen dogs, including six puppies, died in a cabin fire off Goldstream Road northwest of Fairbanks early Friday.
The owner, Richard Hall, 57, said he stoked up his wood stove about 12:30 a.m. after getting back from dinner at his son's house. He then left the cabin to use a telephone at another building on his property.
Firefighters said the fire started near the wood stove and was out of control by the time he finished his call.
''When I stepped out of there, you could hear it crackling,'' Hall told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''It's sad. You feel like you betrayed them.''
Hall runs a lumber business on the property and keeps hundreds of dogs chained to dog houses, fences and junked vehicles.
Hall said he kept puppies and sickly, old and feeble dogs in the cabin, where he also lived.
''I called it my doggie hospital,'' he said.
The dead dogs, were found in hiding places under furniture, such as Hall's bed, appear to have succumbed to smoke, Hall said.
''They didn't burn to death. There's a dog door so nobody was locked in other than a couple who were tied. I assume the puppies are under the stove where they liked to be,'' he said.
Two puppies Hall pulled out of his truck apparently escaped from the burning cabin. Hall said he believes some adults made it out also.
Borough Animal Control employees visited the property Friday afternoon and Hall asked them to leave, said Laura Hood, animal control manager.
''We did not go onto his property or look at his dogs so it is still under investigation,'' she said.
Hall previously had been cited by animal control for having loose dogs. The borough also once asked Hall to get rabies shots for all of his dogs, which he did, Hood said.
Hall has owned his property since 1963 and has no insurance, he said. He's divorced with three grown children.
Two of the dogs that died in the fire were about 17 years old. Hall said he had had them since they were pups.
''It all comes down to me and human error,'' he said.
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