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The Hollis & Klawock Fire Departments Prevent Major Forest Fire

Southeast Alaskas Island News of Thorne Bay, Alaska

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The Hollis and Klawock Volunteer Fire Departments worked together to fight a house fire in a heavily wooded area at the Harris River Road Subdivision the night of July 3 and prevented a major forest fire from happening that could have potentially destroyed several homes in that quiet Hollis subdivision.

The fire started about 7pm at the unoccupied house of Donald Banning of Olympia, Washington and was first reported by Hollis resident Jim Purvis who lives adjacent to the Banning house. Purvis called 911 & then called Hollis fireman Budd Burnett stating: "Joe Johansson's old house (former owner) is on fire and I can see the tops of the trees burning." Burnett notified Hollis firefighters and the State Troopers in Klawock notified the Klawock Fire Department. There were nine Hollis firefighters at the scene with 2 fire trucks & 5 firefighters from Klawock with one fire truck. Hollis' 2000-gallon tanker truck arrived at the scene later and was used to draft water to the other trucks. Water was also drafted from the Harris River about one-half mile away. Hollis Fire Chief, Bill Sharpes & Klawock Fire Chief, Mike Peratrovich headed up the 2 fire squads and both squads worked very well together. The fire was under control & the Klawock fire crew departed about 10pm Hollis firefighters secured the area about midnight.

State Troopers Sgt. Grant Miller & John Ryan were at the scene until the fire was brought under control and considered the cause of the fire as suspicious because the house was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Sgt Miller called State Deputy Fire Marshall Robert Plumb in Juneau, who flew to Hollis the following day to investigate the cause of the fire. The house had been unoccupied since March, when Banning spent two weeks there. At the request of Sgt Miller, three Hollis firefighters took 4-hour shifts at the fire site from 12 midnight until Deputy Fire Marshall Plumb arrived about 11 am.

Plumb said it appeared the fire was accidental and likely caused by a short in the electrical wiring under the house. Banning told Plumb during a telephone conversation that there was power to the meter at the back of the house and that he had shut off the breakers inside the house after his March visit. Banning did not have insurance on the house so there was no motive there, Plumb said. Part of the wiring was buried underground to a nearby shop and a critter could have chewed through the wiring insulation, causing the electrical wiring short, Plumb speculated. The weather was warm and dry and the electrical sparks could have ignited the debris under the house, he said.

The old wood framed house burned to the ground relatively fast.

Copyright 2012 Southeast Alaska's Island News, Thorne Bay, Alaska. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: August 1, 2012

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