Fire destroys house in Little Diomede
Zachary Milligrock returned to his Diomede home Friday evening to find it ablaze. He found a fire burning between the bedrooms.
“I ran back out, to my neighbors, trying to get a flashlight and a fire extinguisher but they did not have any,” he said. “When I ran back home the fire was already in the living room.”
The house belonged to the Milligrock family.
“It was abandoned for so many years and I cleaned it out and moved into it,” said Milligrock.
Millligrock wasn’t sure what started the fire. He had a monitor heater but he didn’t run it during the daytime, only at night. That day he’d turned it off as usual and it was off all day. The outside temperature was around 15°F degrees above.
Twenty-seven volunteers came to fight the fire as there is no active volunteer fire department.
“They’ve been active before but the past few years the city was having a hard time operating off little funds,” said Frances Ozenna, tribal coordinator at the Native Village of Diomede. “Financially they were hurting. But because of the guys’ experience with the fire department their response was good. Even though they weren’t properly geared they were able to control it and turn it off.”
As the houses are close together the fire might have been dangerous.
Diomede normally fights fires with salt water. But the night before the ice came back in force and really piled up. To auger through it and get the pump access to water would have taken too long. So they hooked up to the city’s drinking water source at the water treatment plant.
“26,000 gallons of water was used to fight the fire, leaving the city at 109,000,” said Ozenna. “I think they’re going to start rationing by maybe third week of April. By the time June comes around they’ll pretty much deplete what they have.”
The water comes off the mountain and is collected in late June. The storage tank is sufficient to meet the needs of the community for drinking, laundry and bathing.
“The day after the fire Diomede had an emergency community meeting at the school,” said Ozenna. “The ladies made breakfast and dinner for the group. The family wanted to thank everybody that was involved. Not just the volunteers and the fire department but also the people who have called in during and after. Donations are on the way.”
“We haven’t received anything yet because we don’t have a helicopter. The weather is holding back our mail and passenger service.”
Diomede is connected to the mainland by a helicopter service for the lack of a runway on the steep island.
Where will Zachary Milligrock live now?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I was thinking of fixing up another house and staying in it again. Nothing else I can do.”
Milligrock plans to renovate his auntie's house and if anybody wants to help, building materials would be much appreciated. He asked for donations to be delivered to Pathfinder Helicopter in Nome.