The community of Two Rivers is joining together in an effort to catch the person or persons responsible for a string of arson fires and to prevent further destruction.
So far, law enforcement agencies are investigating at least six fires as arson, with the most recent being a small house fire on Saturday night.
The numerous arson fires are even more troubling considering that Two Rivers does not have a fire department. Currently, people with water tanks on their trucks have been filling their tanks and driving to fires and dousing the flames. To better prepare for fires, the community is attempting to bring a 24-hour water tanker, which would serve as a fire truck, to the community center.
According to a post in the Pleasant Valley/Two Rivers Facebook page, community members are asking for people with commercial drivers licenses to volunteer for shifts.
The Pleasant Valley Community Association is organizing a cash reward fund for any individual who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the fires.
Bob Sugden, treasurer for the Pleasant Valley Community Association, said the fund was up to $14,900 as of Wednesday morning.
“I was shocked that it was that high,” Sugden said.
The fund started Saturday and grew by roughly $7,000 on Tuesday. The goal is to provide an incentive for someone to come forward with information.
“Eventually someone will go, ‘Wow, I want that money,’” Sugden said.
While law enforcement agencies have confirmed that the fires are related, it is still unclear what the connection is. The targets appear to be somewhat random, which has the entire community on edge and vigilantly watching out for suspicious people and activity. In the Two Rivers Pleasant Valley Facebook page, several people discussed starting a community watch group. A few commenters noted that this might be difficult in a remote community that is not divided up into typical blocks.
The goal of the watch is to have a point of contact for unusual activity.
“It’s more an avenue for you to report something or someone strange if you see it,” Melanie Ebersole wrote.
The Alaska Fire Marshal’s Office has not yet determined whether the fire on Monday that demolished a house on Grange Hall Road was arson. The Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Fire Marshal’s Office and the FBI are collaborating and have not released much information about the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about the fires or who wants to report suspicious activity is encouraged to contact the troopers at 907-451-5100.
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.