Fire destroys Fritz Creek General Store
Emergency responders say the Fritz Creek General Store, outside of Homer, could be a total loss after a fire early Thursday morning damaged most of the building. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
The building, around mile 8 of East End Road, was built in the 1950s as a community hall before it became the general store in the 1980s. Today, it also houses a post office, liquor store, gas station and to-go food counter.
Kachemak Emergency Services Fire Chief Bob Cicciarella said it was the building’s old construction that made it so hard to get the fire out.
“It is pretty much destroyed,” he said. “The building is still standing, and the walls are still up. But there was a lot of heat in there.”
Cicciarella said emergency responders got a call about the fire around 4 a.m. Thursday, from a passerby who spotted smoke coming out of the roof. At the time, the building was unoccupied.
Cicciarella said Firefighters from Kachemak Emergency Services, the Homer Fire Department and Western Emergency Services responded.
On arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke coming out of the annex space and through the roof, and that there was heavy fire from one end of the attic space to the other, said Cicciarella.
He said the fire could have started somewhere other than the attic. There was a lot of heat and soot damage on the lower area too, including the kitchen.
Cicciarella said responders made pretty quick entry and suppressed the main body of the fire within 40 minutes.
But he said there were hard-to-get hotspots after that, particularly on the right side of the store, which he said in part is due to the old nature of the building.
“Sometimes, that kind of construction gets hard to get at,” he said. “When you have tongue and groove and tin and other materials very close together, you have to do a lot of prying apart to get water in between those layers.”
Cicciarella said it seems like the building will be a total loss.
The cause and origin of the fire is still unknown. The state fire marshall is coming down Thursday to investigate and determine a final cause, since it’s a commercial structure.
The store is owned by Sean Maryott and Diana Carbonell. They couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Their building also houses more than 100 post office boxes. A representative from the Homer post office in town said mail will be redirected there.
Beth Carroll, of Fritz Creek, gets her mail there and worked at the store on and off for 20 years — at the post office, the front counter and in the kitchen.
“I felt like it helped me keep my finger on the pulse of what was going on in the community,” she said.
Carroll said she loved having a chance everyday to speak with residents of Fritz Creek and Homer who came in to get their mail or a slice of pizza. She said she’s thankful for the place it’s held in the community for so long, even as it’s changed hands.
“And I really hope this is not the end of it,” she said. “Or at least not the end of a community gathering space in Fritz Creek.”
This is a developing story.