Nome fire fighters respond to Teller fire
A house fire in Teller caused substantial damage to the home of Ray Foster, according to Nome Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim West Jr., but it fortunately did not result in injuries to people.
On May 4 the fire broke out at Teller and soon flames engulfed the building, owned by the Bering Strait Regional Housing Authority.
According to NVFD, Nome received a request at 6:35 p.m. from the Alaska State Troopers and Teller Mayor Blanche Garnie to assist. Teller residents fought the fire in the meantime using a 250-gallon water tank and a one and a half inch Honda water pump and hose. According to a press release, they were able to keep the flames from flaring up but were unable to extinguish the fire.
NVFD Chief West said he sent six fire fighters with equipment including three Honda generators, 1,000-foot hose and personal safety gear packs on two Bering Air planes. The responders were Assistant Chief Kevin Knowlton, Capt. Shane Smithhisler, Capt. Johnny Bahnke III, Lt. Kevin Bahnke and fire fighters Ryan Martinson and Hunter Bellamy.
When they arrived on scene around 8:45 p.m. smoke came out of the windows of the single story building. As Teller has no water and sewer system, the closest water source is Grantley Harbor. Teller residents helped the Nome fire fighters to drill holes into the still ice-covered Grantley Harbor, roll out the hoses and started to pump water through the mainline. Once the water was flowing, NVFD entered the house and contained the fire. The concern was that the north winds would drive the flames to adjacent buildings.
Three fire fighters, Gerald Hughes, Benny Piscoya and Josh Gologergen, drove to Teller on the Bob Blodgett Nome-Teller Highway, which was just recently opened by the DOT for this summer.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. West estimated the damage at $60,000 to 70,000. According to the NVFD press release, the house sustained major heat and smoke damage, but is still standing and could be repaired.
Ray Foster, the resident of the home, was checked out for smoke inhalation at the Teller Health Clinic and was release with minor injuries. “With limited fire fighting gear and Training in Teller, Alaska State Troopers paid for the Bering Air Charter to get gear and NVFD fire fighters up to Teller which prevented a possible major disaster if the fire had flared out of control putting other Teller residences in danger,” the press release reads.
The portable travel packs that Nome fire fighters brought were purchased through NSEDC grant funds, and just last week, the NSEDC board approved $140,735 for Teller to purchase fire fighting equipment.