Officials have confirmed that the Grange Hall Community Center fire that occurred early Saturday morning in Two Rivers was arson.
The blaze occurred at approximately 1:40 a.m. Saturday and the structure is considered to be “a total loss,” according to the Alaska State Trooper dispatch report.
There have been seven confirmed arson fires in the Two Rivers community this summer, including the Grange Hall Community Center fire, Alaska State Trooper Information Officer Austin McDaniel said.
The Alaska State Fire Marshal’s Office continues to investigate a Grange Hall Road fire that occurred on July 12 and destroyed the home of Mike and Toni Galster. The cause and origin of the fire "remain undetermined with suspicious elements,” McDaniel said.
A monetary reward is being offered for information resulting in the arrest of the suspected arsonist. The Pleasant Valley Community Association is offering the $20,377 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the fires.
Bob Sugden, treasurer of the Pleasant Valley Community Association, said the majority of reward funds have been donated by community members.
“For the most part, it’s been from people in our community. We had one donation that was very sizable but most of them have been $20 and $50 donations,” he said.
Sugden called the outpouring of community support “overwhelming” and hopes the reward will incentivize anyone with information to come forward.
“I was overwhelmed at first," he said. "I am humbled by how much the people in this community care and how committed they are to making this nightmare go away.”
The recent string of suspicious fires has prompted calls on social media for possible actions such as 24-hour drone surveillance, organized community watches, and taking volunteer shifts driving a water truck. Two Rivers does not have a fire department or firefighting service.
Anyone with information about any of the recent fires in Two Rivers is encouraged to call the Alaska State Troopers at 907-451-5100.
Individuals who would like to donate to the Pleasant Valley Community Association reward fund can make a deposit to the “PVCA Reward Account” at any branch of Mt. McKinley Bank or donate online at paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/3111294.
Donations can also be mailed to the Pleasant Valley Community Association, PO BOX 16001, Two Rivers, AK, 99716.
Contact reporter Liv Clifford at 459-7582. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMcrime.