Police arrest two on charges related to Dillingham harbor fire

Aug 3, 2018

Shannon Small is charged with starting last week’s fire in the Dillingham boat harbor. Rudy Erickson allegedly interfered with fire fighters’ efforts.

A volunteer firefighter hoses down smoldering material from the razed building on Saturday afternoon.
Credit Avery Lill/KDLG

Dillingham police arrested two men this week in relation to the fire that destroyed a storage building in the boat harbor.

Shannon Small of Aleknagik, 41, allegedly fell asleep while intoxicated in a connex in the harbor. He was smoking a cigarette, which caught a mattress in the connex on fire. According to police, the flames quickly spread to the storage building next door.

The Dillingham Volunteer Fire Department responded to reports of the fire at 8:45 p.m. on Friday.

Erick Sabo, a fisherman from Phoenix, Arizona, worried when he heard sirens heading toward town on Friday that boats were on fire. When he arrived on scene to check on his boat, he said he saw black smoke billowing from the storage building and heat radiating off of it. He quickly joined in with volunteers, holding a fire hose for several hours.

A little firefighter gets a turn with the hose Saturday afternoon.
Credit Avery Lill/KDLG

“The wind luckily is coming from the easterly direction, so it was blowing where the flames couldn’t really do a lot of damage. If it was blowing the other way, all of the lockers by LFS would have been in trouble. We were worried that stuff was going to get hot, the nets in there were going to start melting. Then we would have had a real problem. So luckily they got the hoses set up real fast, and people just started coming in. Guys brought water to everybody helping out. It was a good effort from everybody,” said Sabo.

Fire fighters fought the flames with help from community members through the night and into Saturday afternoon.

At 2:15 a.m., Dillingham Police received a complaint from the Dillingham Volunteer Fire Department that alleged Rudy Erickson, 29, was intoxicated and had climbed onto the burning warehouse and was berating fire fighters and refusing to get off the roof.

The city razed the burning storage building to keep the flames from spreading.
Credit Avery Lill/KDLG

The officer who responded said he witnessed Erickson throw lumber at the firefighters. Erickson resisted arrest, and in the process he kicked an officer in the chest and side of the head.

The storage building, which belonged to the city and mostly contained material from an old cannery, was demolished on Saturday to keep the flames from spreading further. No injuries and no damage to boats were reported.

Fire chief Norman Heyano applauded the long hours volunteers put into fighting the fire, saying “They all did a great job, I thought. Contained it to where it is.”

Small faces misdemeanor charges of criminally negligent burning and criminal trespass. Erickson faces misdemeanor charges of assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.