Anchorage, AK Lane Hotel Fire, Sep 1966

Lane Hotel Anchorage



Anchorage, Alaska (AP) -- At least 14 persons, two of them women, died Monday in an early morning fire that destroyed the two-story, 33-room Lane Hotel on the edge of Anchorage's main business district.
Anchorage police said 14 bodies, some of them burned beyond recognition, were recovered from the ruins of the frame building at Fourth Avenue and C street.
The fire started at 1:17 a.m., Alaska Standard Time, during a cold, driving rain and flames quickly swept through the building, burst through the roof and towered skyward before they could be brought under control two hours later. The cause was not determined immediately.
The bodies were taken to a police garage where attempts to identify them were started. Firemen began an inch-by-inch search of the charred, water-soaked ruins to determine if there were additional dead. Their efforts were handicapped by the fact the roof fell in.
"There were an awful lot of flames," said JOE ROTHSTEIN, editor of the Anchorage Daily News, who witnessed the fire. "No one has any idea of how it started. The night clerk, JOHN UHLES, said it bagan in the rear of the hotel and apparently was off and running pretty quick."
"Some of the firemen looked pretty sick as they carried out the burned bodies. Still others (guests in the hotel) died of asphyxiation."
UHLES raced from door to door awakening guests until the smoke became so thick he had to grope his way to safety.
The first 10 bodies recovered were found on the second floor. But Fire Chief VIC BERNASCONI said people were known to have slept in the basement and that area, filled with charred timbers and debris, would be searched thoroughly before a definite death toll could be determined.
THLES said he believed about 25 persons were registered, but threre was no way to know how many escaped the burning building.
VIRGIL McVICKER, owner of the building, said he believed the fire was caused by an explosion in the boiler room. He estimated the loss at $250,000.
The stucco-type hotel had been remodeled recently. There was a restaurant off the downstairs lobby and an arcade toward the rear.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1966-09-12