No injuries in Kokhanok house fire

Dec 10, 2018

A Kokhanok home near Iliamna Lake burned on Saturday. Volunteers fought the flame for five hours.

No one was inside the Kokhanok home when it caught fire. It took volunteers five hours to knock down the flames.
Credit Gary Nielsen

A house caught fire in Kokhanok on Saturday. No one was in the house when the fire started, and nobody was injured fighting the blaze.

The village does not have an official fire department, so a team of about 15 ad hoc volunteers fought the fire for five hours.

“We were just sitting down to have lunch when my son came into the house and said, ‘There’s a house on fire down by the beach,’” recounted Gary Nielsen, a Kokhanok resident. “So we slapped out our gear and ran down there. There was a house that was pouring smoke, and the volunteers poured water on it until we subdued it around 4:30.”

Initially, they tapped into the city’s main hydrant. When the tank ran low, they switched to pumping water directly from Iliamna Lake.

“We got on it fast enough that we kept the flames relatively small,” Nielsen said. “There was some flames licking out under the eaves of the roof, but other than that we kept it down pretty low until we got it mostly out”

The home was damaged beyond repair. One wall is gone. The roof partially collapsed, and the inside is blackened. The village has not yet determined what will be done with the remnants of the structure.

Alaska State Troopers have not yet determined the official cause of the fire. At least of the volunteer responders suspects it started at the fuse box.

Contact the author at or 907-842-2200.