Firefighters in St. Paul stayed up through the night trying to put out a large blaze in the middle of town.
Anchorage television station KTUU first reported that a warehouse owned by Trident Seafoods erupted in flames at about 10:30pm Thursday. While the fire has continued to smoke through the afternoon, a group of 25 responders, including Coast Guard personnel, have been able to keep it from spreading to nearby buildings.
Because of the fire’s central location, area residents were evacuated to city hall. According to Fire Chief KC Alberg, no injury reports or missing persons notices have been filed with the St. Paul Department of Public Safety. He adds that the building is expected to be a total loss, and that clean-up could be tricky, given the materials inside.
“There was a large volume of chemicals stored there,” says Alberg. “We have been told that there were oils and possibly some fuel and some other hazardous materials.” Alberg adds that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Trident warehouse was built during the 1940s, and lies in the middle of 400-person St. Paul. According to Trident President Paul Padgett, the company stopped using it as a plant about 15 years ago and has long since removed any valuable equipment. Now, Trident mostly uses it to store salt and fiber, and they lease some of the warehouse space to the Native corporation TDX.
Padgett adds that the loss of the building should not have an effect on their operations, since they had other processing materials stored in their main plant. It’s also not nearly as disruptive as the sea ice that’s recently enveloped St. Paul and prevented fishing vessels from coming into the harbor.
“It’s not going to cause any problem whatsoever, says I think the only problem we’ve got right now is still a little bit of ice out front.”
Trident is the largest seafood company in America, and its St. Paul facility processes much of the snow crab harvested in the United States.