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Two Pets Rescued, Given Oxygen Following House Fire In Bethel

A fire destroyed a portion of a home on Aug. 19, 2021 in Bethel's Trailer Court neighborhood.
Gabby Hiestand Salgado

A house fire destroyed a portion of a Bethel home on Aug. 19 and damaged almost everything inside. No injuries occurred, but two pets are recovering from smoke inhalation. 

It was just before 10 a.m. on Aug. 19. Lena Rae Morris was at work at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation when her cousin called and told Morris that her house was on fire.

“I panicked, and I called the taxi and notified my supervisor right away, and I left," Morris said.

The house is in Trailer Court, just a short drive from the health corporation. When she got there, she saw two fire trucks, an ambulance, and firefighters at work.

“I didn’t see any flames, but I did see a lot of smoke," Morris said.

No one had been inside when the fire started, and no one was injured. However, one of Morris’s dogs and her cat had to be rescued. Her dog’s name is Bailey.

“He wasn’t able to breathe for a good amount of time, but after EMS was able to give him oxygen, in about 45 minutes or so he started moving around,” Morris said.

Her other dog, named Fluffy, had been outside when the fire occurred and was fine. Her cat, named Kitty, also received oxygen. Both Bailey and Kitty are recovering.

Morris worries that perhaps her dog Bailey jumped onto the stove and turned on a burner with his paw, something he’d done before.

Bethel Fire Chief Daron Solsebee said that the fire does appear to have started in the kitchen, but the cause is under investigation. He estimates that the fire burned a quarter of the home, and the rest has smoke damage. Units sit close together in Trailer Court, but the firefighters were able to contain the flames and prevent the fire from spreading to other structures. Solsebee said that firefighters will give pets oxygen when resources allow. "Because pets are family, too," he said.

Morris had been living in the house with her boyfriend and brother. They were only able to salvage a few belongings.

“We were able to get some clothes and blankets. Other than that, everything else was damaged. We were able to retrieve some of our subsistence, but not all,” Morris said. "Berries and salmon."

Morris is asking for donations at Alaska USA account number 1693862.

Morris, her boyfriend, and brother are staying with relatives for now. Their house that burned sat on property rented from Bethel Trailer Court, LLC. Property manager Scott Campbell said that the company is building a new unit in Bethel’s Tundra Ridge Subdivision. It’ll be finished next week, and he’ll offer it to Morris first.