[UPDATES: July 13, 2011, a new hydronic heater was seen in front of the one that burned in January 2011. After the fire, neighbors report the boiler was back in operation the week of January 17, 2011.]
An outdoor boiler in Goldstream Valley caught fire and burned Sunday, January 16, 2011. The crew of first responders from Chena Goldsteam Fire and Rescue deployed a fire engine, rescue vehicle, and ambulance to put out the fire, saving the residence at Sunshine and Helios Avenues. The home’s residents were present and did not require emergency attention.
Alerted by concerned neighbors that smoke was again filling the valley, Clean Air Fairbanks went to the scene. According to Captain Doug Loshbaugh, the outdoor heater appears to have been burning coal. A trailer full of coal was parked a few feet in front of the boiler. Captain Loshbaugh told Clean Air Fairbanks the fire was called in about 45 minutes earlier, making the 911 call at about 11:30 am. The fire crew came from the 716 Chena Ridge Road main fire station, 479-5672.
Pictures by Clean Air Fairbanks record the scene of the fire and Captain Loshbaugh. Residents of Goldstream Valley shared photos taken the day before the fire. They stated these photos were typical of the smoke produced by this boiler on previous days. They also shared photos taken from the ridge during the fire.
Pictures taken the previous day, 1/15/2011, document smoke pouring West down Goldstream Valley and a street-level view showing smoke emitting from the boiler. The residents who took these pictures told Clean Air Fairbanks they “felt bad” not to have called 911 when they first saw the thick smoke. They explained, “That’s how it looked the day before and on many other days.”
The Sunshine Ave fire is a poignant illustration that “use” and “misuse” are fundamentally different and are in fact antonyms. The fire and the ordinary use of the boiler both exemplify misuse, as excessive smoke was released both under typical operation as well as during the fire. View the photos and judge for yourself.