Editor, Valdez Star 

Fire at trailer park guts mobile homes early Friday morning

Social media help aid efforts after residents made homeless by blaze


Photo courtesy City of Valdez

Even vehicles were lost during Friday's fire.

Social media in Valdez sprang into action to help the families displaced last week after a fire gutted two mobile homes and a damaged a third.

Accounts to aid those displace have appeared at the online giving site gofundme to help Amy and Daniel Bendel, and their two children, along with Kerra and Gen Apolo, who were out of town when their home went up in smoke.

The Valdez fire department was on the scene just after 4 a.m. Friday morning after multiple calls came into the emergency dispatch center in Valdez reporting a mobile home fire.

Firefighters found two mobile home "engulfed in flames" in spaces 167 and 168 according to a city press release.

"Firefighters verified all occupants of the trailer in space 168 safely evacuated prior to first responder arrival," the city's public information office said. " Valdez emergency medical technicians treated three adults and two children at the scene for smoke inhalation and minor burns. An adult neighbor who helped evacuate the trailer's occupants was also treated on scene. All four adults and two children were transported by ambulance to Providence Valdez Medical Center for further treatment."

The trailer in space 167 was searched and determined to be unoccupied. It's owners were out of town when the fire began.

Valdez police officers transported two canines who escaped the trailer to the Valdez Animal Shelter. Neither dog sustained apparent injuries from the incident. The dogs' owner has been notified.

A puppy did die in the fire. An adult Malamute that was first feared dead was later located with a neighbor.

"At approximately 5:50 a.m. Fire Department personnel deemed the fire under control and began overhaul efforts," the city said. "Both trailers involved in the incident were determined to be uninhabitable. The cause of the fire remains under investigation."

The American Red Cross was contacted to provide immediate assistance.

"The Bags of Love program provided two large comfort care packages for the children involved," the city said. "The Valdez Chapter of Alaska State Firefighters Association also provides monetary assistance to individuals whose homes are lost during a fire."

A cellphone video of the fire was posted on Facebook by Brandon Taylor early Friday.

Donations to help those displaced in the fire on gofundme can be made by going to the website and entering the names of the house fire victims.

Officials say it is important to remember to keep smoke detectors in good working order, especially in Alaska.

In 2014, Alaska recorded 11.8 deaths per 1000 fires in the state, compared with the national average of 5.5 deaths. According to the CDC, Alaska is also 85.1 percent above average in fire related injuries.

Photo courtesy City of Valdez

Two households were burned out of their homes Friday after a mobile home caught fire - and the flames spread to other homes.


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