Two fires in the Two Rivers area within a week led to the destruction of a home and a building that housed a thrift store.
The Pleasant Valley Free Thrift Store, located at Mile 23 of Chena Hot Springs Road, burned to the ground in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“Everything is a total loss,” said Bob Sugden, who is on the board of the Pleasant Valley Community Association, the organization which owns the building where the store was located. The blaze began sometime before 3 a.m. and lasted several hours. Sugden arrived shortly after 6 a.m. and found the building “completely engulfed.”
The source of the fire is a huge mystery, Sugden said. The building was not connected to electricity and did not have a boiler or other heat or source. It was unoccupied, and all doors were locked overnight. The building was not old; it was built around 2010, PVCA board member Virginia McKee said.
According to Sugden, Alaska State Troopers have a few theories about how the fire may have started. The first is that an item in the store may have spontaneously combusted, the second is the fire was caused by a lightning strike, and the last is arson.
Troopers and Department of Forestry firefighters responded to the scene to make sure the flames did not spread. However, Two Rivers is not in an incorporated area of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and thus lacks a fire department.
The Free Store first opened last year and “was very well received,” McKee said. Community members could drop off their old items, which others could take for free. Volunteers were in the process of renovating the building, including adding a concrete floor. The plan was to pour concrete on June 5 and to reopen shortly thereafter. Now, the future of the store is unknown.
“I do not know yet what the plans will be, “ Liana Slyter wrote on the Pleasant Valley Free Store Facebook group page.
This is the second major fire in Two Rivers in a matter of days. A house at Mile 19 of Chena Hot Springs Road burned Wednesday. The home belonged to Warren and Barbie Howard.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.