Photo courtesy Joe Kashi The remains of the Clam Shell Lodge smolder in this photo taken Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 in Clam Gulch, Alaska. The building, which had not been open since 2011, burned down Friday night.

Photo courtesy Joe Kashi The remains of the Clam Shell Lodge smolder in this photo taken Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 in Clam Gulch, Alaska. The building, which had not been open since 2011, burned down Friday night.

CES douses three fires over weekend

The Central Emergency Services firefighters kept busy this weekend with a series of structure fires around the central Kenai Peninsula.

The first call came for the Clam Shell Lodge in Clam Gulch. Some passersby reported the building to be on fire around 9:36 p.m. Friday night, and CES responded with four engines, four tankers, a medic unit, two unit vehicles and two chief officer vehicles. The agency also called for mutual aid from the Ninilchik volunteer fire department, so altogether there were about 24 firefighters on scene, said CES Captain Terry Bookey.

The landmark lodge, which was built in the early 1960s and served as a central meeting place for many of the small communities of the central peninsula between Kenai and Homer before closing in 2011, was a total loss. Though most of the crews were released around 4 a.m. Saturday morning, some stayed to watch the building, which was still burning in some places. CES is keeping an eye on it in case of flareups from hotspots buried in the ash, Bookey said.

“When fires of this nature occur in such big buildings, it’s really nearly impossible to get to the seat of the coals where things are burning there,” he said. “It’s really just putting water on stuff you can see at the time and if any other stuff pops up, you come back and take care of it.”

The building has been vacant since the owner closed it down after her husband and co-owner’s death in 2011 and the property went into foreclosure. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Bookey said. Firefighters didn’t find anyone in the building in need of medical attention and had no reports of anyone being inside, he said.

Late Saturday afternoon, firefighters were finishing up transporting a person to Central Peninsula Hospital after a collision between a snowmachine and a car when they were called out to another structure fire on Gaswell Road near Soldotna. A two-story home with a greenhouse attached had caught fire, Bookey said. Crews responded at approximately 4:43 p.m. and had the fire under control by 5:25, he said.

“…There was some smoke, heat and water damage to the first floor (of the house),” he said. “The attached greenhouse portion was pretty much destroyed, and there was a one and a half story area … mostly used for storage that had heavy fire damage. There was a front office area and the living area (that were not very damaged).”

The firefighters stayed on scene for about an hour after the fire was declared under control to monitor it, declaring it officially out at approximately 6:21 p.m. The cause of the fire is also still under investigation, Bookey said. No one was transported for medical treatment, even though the residents were home at the time, he said.

While on scene on Gaswell Road, another fire was reported near mile 12 of Kalifornsky Beach Road in a chimney. Some of the responders split off to respond to it and were able to contain and extinguish the fire in the chimney, Bookey said.

“They were able to get in there really quick and extinguish the chimney fire,” he said.

The residents were home at the time and were getting ready to leave when they spotted a lot of embers in the chimney and called CES. The chimney had been installed in the last year and the resident’s didn’t think they needed to clean it, he said. It’s important to remember to clean out chimneys at least once in the fall and once or twice in the winter if the woodstove is used frequently, he said.


Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

Dr. Kim Thiele stands by a wall of newspaper clippings and images of family members and precursors in his office near Kenai on Monday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A ministry for me’

Kalifornsky doctor wraps up career after 44 years

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman game seizure bill received warmly in Senate committee

Of the roughly 150 animals the department takes each year, an average of between one and two are determined to be wrongfully seized

A collage of photos of Nikiski North Star Elementary students taking swimming lessons at the Nikiski Pool. (Photo collages provided by Nikiski North Star Elementary)
Community effort puts 200 Nikiski North Star students through swimming lessons

The lessons covered “everything,” from basic flotation to constructing rough-but-functional life jackets out of clothing

From left, Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, hugs Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage, after House passage of sweeping education legislation while Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, watches on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes BSA increase, with other education provisions

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where lawmakers must approve the bill as-is before it can head to the governor’s desk

Rep. Justin Ruffridge speaks about
House considers, rejects multiple school funding amendments during Wednesday floor debate

Over several hours, lawmakers considered six different increases in the Base Student Allocation to public schools

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dismissing critics, Sullivan touts LNG project

During his annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, the U.S. senator said state leaders should be doing everything they can to make the project successful

From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Senate committee hears setnet buyback bill

The East Side of Cook Inlet Set Net Fleet Reduction Act is sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers went into an hourslong recess that ended with adjournment until Tuesday morning

Most Read