A Two Rivers family remains in shock today after an early morning fire over the weekend flattened their home and took almost everything they owned but their lives and the clothes on their backs.
But as the family mourns the loss of the house and sifts its ashes looking for any family heirlooms, they welcome the arrival of the appropriately-named Matthias Phoenix Maier, who was born even as the smoke was billowing out of the ashes of what would have been his home.
An extended family of 12 people lived in the home. One of the people who lived there, Christi Beck, Matthias’ grandmother, said despite the loss, she is grateful everyone got out of the house safely.
“Our injuries were actually very minor, there were so many times during the fire that so many other things could have happened,” she said.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it started suddenly sometime a few hours after midnight. Chris Beck, Christi’s husband, ran through the halls of the three-story home screaming for everyone to get out.
“We lost everything,” he said. “It was just so quick and intense. There was nothing we could take at all, it was just too hot.” Two Rivers is an unincorporated part of the Fairbanks-North Star Borough and does not have its own fire department.
The family even lost passports, birth certificates, identification cards — everything down to the two moose, caribou and salmon they had in a now-melted freezer.
The house is insured, but because thousands of dollars had been recently sunk into building materials, it is unclear how much of the loss is covered. The family was in the process of renovating the three-story house as part of what they called their “Alaska dream.” The house located on Loeta Way was built in the mid-70s by Cynthia Hill Reed and her husband, Forrest Reed, a Navy veteran and noted local outdoorsman who died unexpectedly in 2017. Reed lost the house to a bank, she said, when the combination of the lack of income and the bank raising interest rates made her unable to pay off the house loan.
She watched the smoke rise from the house all day in tears, she said.
“It was bad enough that I had to lose the house, and now it’s gone,” she said.
A GoFundMe account to help raise money for the family is available online at bit.ly/3ru2qs3.
Contact Will Morris at 459-7582.