The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Fire guts family home but town rallies to show its support

Neighboring structures spared as mobile home burned down last week


Valdez Star photo

Firefighters fought flames, smoke and cold weather Thursday after the home of Lucy and Tim Lang caught fire and was eventually destroyed.

A family was left out in the cold after their home burned down Thursday, but warm-hearted people are again going the extra mile to ensure they know Valdez is home.

The city's public information office said in a press release that the home of Lucy and Tim Lang was actively on fire when emergency responders arrived on the scene just before 3 p.m.

"At approximately 2:49 p.m. Thursday, Valdez Fire and Police Dispatch received a report of a fire in a residence on the corner of Gulkana Street and Meals Avenue," said Allie Ferko, the city's public information officer, in a press release issued shortly after the fire. "Emergency responders arrived on scene at approximately 2:52 p.m. and discovered an active fire in a trailer home at 100 Gulkana. Firefighters verified residents in the involved and neighboring homes were evacuated and began work to extinguish the fire."

No people were injured in the fire.

"One adult male reported being present in the involved home when the fire began," Ferko said. "He and a large black dog escaped without injuries. Two additional small dogs present in the trailer remain unaccounted for and are presumed deceased. "

The city said the fire was deemed "under control" shortly after 5 p.m. and overhaul efforts began.

It did not take long before friends, family and other members of the Valdez community sprang into action to help the Langs.

A clothing drive and offers of hotel rooms and other assistance were immediate, in addition to aid offered by official organizations.

"City officials contacted the American Red Cross and a local ARC representative coordinated assistance for the couple displaced by the incident," the city said. "Additionally, several local businesses offered the couple assistance with shelter, clothing, and supplies. The Valdez Chapter of Alaska State Firefighters Association also provides monetary assistance to individuals whose homes are lost during a fire."

By Tuesday morning, a GoFundMe page started by Colleen Price had raised over $15,000 towards a goal of $20,000 needed for the Langs to get into a new home.

"OK folks, Lucy and Tim found a trailer to purchase in Valdez," Price said in an update on the GoFundMe page. "The owner was generous enough to drop the price from $25,000 to $20,000, so let's see if we can hit that mark!"

The Lang's home was one of the more distinctive properties in the area, featuring a well manicured lawn and a number of art objects adorned the property, especially during the summer months.

Valdez Star photo

Mabel - a four-year old Golden Retriever mix owned by Brandee Martel - survived the smoke that inundated her home directly next to the Lang's home.

While firefighters managed to keep the fire from spreading to other nearby mobile homes, damages were reported at the home neighboring the Lang's property, including cracked windows, smoke damage - and frayed nerves.

While the Lang's lost their home, their dogs and likely most of their possessions, a dog named Mabel was trapped inside the neighboring home as black smoke poured down Gulkana St. as the helpless owner waited word on her beloved pet.

Firefighting efforts also created a secondary hazard - overly iced roads.

"Due to cold temperatures during the response, heavy ice now covers the intersection of Meals Ave and Gulkana Street," the city said, and issued a statement urging caution in the area, despite city efforts to sand the road.

"Those driving in the area are urged to transit slowly and with extreme caution," the city advised.


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