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Bayside Fire Department responds to fire and explosions at Kodiak's firework store

The firework stand is housed in a metal container van across Rezanof Drive from the Bayside Fire Department.
The firework stand is housed in a metal container van across Rezanof Drive from the Bayside Fire Department.

Kodiak’s firework store caught on fire early on June 12. Les and Dan’s Fireworks Stand is the only pyrotechnic shop on the island, across the street from the Bayside Fire Department.

Scott Ellis, the department’s fire chief, lives in the fire hall and said he woke up to the sound of explosions. Ellis said he could smell fireworks and see them as soon as he opened the bay doors.

“The official alarm time was 00:51 – we arrived on scene at 00:51,” he said.

The chief said firefighters quickly shut off access to Rezanof Drive, the arterial for the town. Nearby residents were told to “protect in place,” meaning they were expected to stay in their homes until the fire was out. No injuries were reported. The store’s owners could not be reached in time for this broadcast.

Eight people including Ellis responded to the explosions, and the department ran two of its fire trucks, Engines 10 and 11.

“It burned actively and with explosions for about 20 minutes,” he said. “We put the water on it from a distance and at that point we let it sit and smolder.”

Firefighters monitored the situation for about another 45 minutes after the fire was out. The metal container van is still standing though – Ellis said only the contents of the structure caught alight.

The Kodiak Electric Association also stores several transformers near the firework store, but none exploded or caught fire themselves.

The investigation is ongoing, but Ellis said he’s not sure if the department will be able to determine a cause.

“Because of explosions in a confined space, that renders a lot of that evidence unreliable or completely obliterated,” the fire chief said.

The fire hits the store a few weeks ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, one of the few times the business is open a year.

“Just a reminder, if you do store any kind of explosives or consumer grade fireworks, to do so in a safe manner – have them separated from any potentiality of ignition sources,” he said. “As we get close to the July 4 holiday, please, please, please use your fireworks safely.”

Ellis said at least one person in a group should be a sober adult, and to keep a safe distance from explosives.

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