- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Fire officials in Fairbanks continue to investigate the cause of a deadly blaze last month at an apartment building.

“We’re still piecing things together on it,” Deputy Fire Chief Ernie Misewicz told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://is.gd/633vO1).

He said they have conducted about 25 interviews, but there are still about six people left to speak with.

“I’m hoping by the end of the week to be able to put out some information,” he said Monday. “There are a lot of people wanting to know what’s going on.”

The fire was reported early the morning of Jan. 29 in a two-story building in west Fairbanks. There were offices and a secondhand furniture store on the first floor and 18 apartments on the second.

The bodies of two women were found in the rubble in the following days. One body has been identified as 50-year-old Jane Connolly. The other victim hasn’t been identified but is also believed to have been a resident.

Investigators believe the fire started in one of two apartments, and Connolly and the unidentified woman were thought to have lived in those two apartments.

A 17-year-old boy, Conar Groppel, is recovering from serious burns at a Seattle hospital. His mother, Jessica, tells the newspaper the boy was visiting a friend when the fire started about 3:45 a.m.

Several people heard an explosion, and the ensuring fire spread so rapidly that some couldn’t reach stairwells and had to be rescued by ladder.

Some people were treated at the Fairbanks hospital for smoke inhalation and cold-related injuries. Many escaped the burning building in bare feet and had to stand outside in 15-degree weather.

The building’s owner said the fire department had checked the sprinkler system the day before the fire and deemed it functional. But it didn’t activate when the fire started.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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