Alaska News
CHANGE STATE

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Anchorage fire chief Denis LeBlanc retires; city deciding replacement


Anchorage Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc retired Friday after nearly three years on the job, officials said. A successor to LeBlanc will be named in a few weeks, said Kristin DeSmith, spokeswoman for Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. Jodie Hettrick, the fire department's deputy chief of operations, is serving as interim chief. LeBlanc, who is 70, said he told the administration of his decision in early May. He said he has loved the job, but he's been working on and off for 53 years, including a few decades in the oil industry. "After 53 years working, it's time," LeBlanc said. The fire chief, who is appointed by the mayor, oversees an annual budget of about $95 million and about 385 employees. It's a job with some turnover: The department has had about a half-dozen chiefs in the past nine years, said the president of the local fire union, Mike Stumbaugh.
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Driver’s decision to take scenic route helped save Chugiak family from fire


A family of six narrowly escaped a house fire with their lives Sunday evening, but things could have been a lot worse if Anchorage's Daren Beals hadn't decided to take the scenic route. Beals, 50, was driving from Eagle River to Chugiak with his girlfriend Irene Bush, and two other family members when he decided — on a whim, he said Monday — to take the quieter Old Glenn instead of the quicker Glenn Highway. As they drove past the home the Sparks family has lived in for more than 30 years, Beals said he noticed something odd. "I was like, 'There's some weird smoke coming from next to the road,'" Beals recalled. A trained volunteer firefighter and EMS captain who works as a health and safety advisor for ConocoPhillips on the North Slope, Beals is no stranger to life-threatening situations.
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Monday, May 21, 2018

House fire displaces family of 6 in Chugiak


A fire left six people without a home Sunday evening in Chugiak. According to Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Assistant Chief Clifton Dalton, the fire was reported at 5:47 p.m. and firefighters arrived from the nearby CVFRD Station 35 on the Old Glenn Highway two minutes later. When crews arrived, Dalton said the home was about 50 percent engulfed in flames. "It took us about 45 minutes to get it under control," he said. No injuries were reported to firefighters or residents of the home, about a quarter-mile north of the Glenn Highway/North Birchwood intersection. Damage to the structure was still being assessed, but the building appeared to suffer heavy damage. The fire also spread to a nearby mini storage business, but firefighers were able to contain the spread to one unit of the facility.
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