Bethel asks governor to declare emergency after school fire

  • Sunday, November 15, 2015 9:42pm
  • News

BETHEL— Bethel council members are asking the state to help the city recover from a school fire.

The Kilbuck building fire burned for 12 hours on Nov. 3, destroying a Yup’ik immersion school and damaging the Kuskokwim Learning Academy.

The city council has declared a local government disaster. Officials want Gov. Bill Walker to declare a state of emergency so that funds can be allocated for recovery. Walker said at the time of his visit to the site of the fire last week that his staff anticipated Bethel’s declaration.

Funds would help repair equipment and rebuild the school, which contained asbestos. Bethel needs to hire certified crews to clear the debris.

City Manager Ann Capela and the Department of Homeland Security drafted the declaration. She said the fire is an opportunity for the city to consider amendments to its municipal code to require signage on buildings that contain asbestos.

“It’s certainly opened our eyes on having the ability to know what is in the building when you’re fighting the fire,” Capela said.

Emergency crews may have been exposed to the carcinogenic mineral while fighting the fire. Capela said lead and a type of toxic compound could also be present at the site.

FAIRBANKS — The Interior city of Nenana will elect a new mayor in January following an abrupt resignation.

Former Mayor Alan Baker served less than two weeks in his elected role before resigning in an Oct. 29 letter, citing the mess of city government and its lack of record keeping.

Nenana Assembly members scheduled the Jan. 19 election during a meeting Thursday.

Mayor Pro Tem Robin Campbell said the three assembly members Baker nominated to fill his role declined to step in. Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development local government specialist Jeff Congdon said Nenana has been without a treasurer and city clerk for years.

ANCHORAGE — A 33-year-old man is facing new charges after a chase with authorities ended with the suspect vehicle crashing into an Anchorage restaurant.

The man was also arrested on unrelated outstanding warrants. Anchorage Police said in a statement Friday night that the man is being questioned.

The chase began after police tried to pull over a Ford Explorer. The driver was suspected in an earlier vehicle theft.

Authorities pursued the driver, who ran a red light and hit a vehicle and light pole before crashing into the restaurant.

Police officers say the driver was arrested after he tried to flee the scene on foot.

The suspect sustained minor injuries in the crash. No others were hurt.

—The Associated Press

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