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“An act of domestic terrorism:” Troopers, State Fire Investigators, FBI investigating Two River arsons

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:53 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Over the last few months, at least four fires in Two Rivers, Alaska are considered to be arsons. Two Rivers is at 23 mile Chena Hot Springs Road just outside of Fairbanks and has no fire department. Over the weekend, the arsonist burned down two houses belonging to members of the McKee family.

Virginia McKee, a resident of Two Rivers said, “Our bedroom was almost 20 feet down there, and the fire had started along that far wall over there and just came roaring this way.” Her home caught fire last Saturday morning and burned to the ground. Alaska State Troopers determined the cause to be arson.

Virginia said that the arsonist allegedly used an accelerant along the length of the building and then lit a match. Inside the building was Virginia, her husband Don, and a renter. They managed to escape the blaze but lost almost all of their belongings.

“I made three trips in and out grabbing items, and each time I moved a vehicle or a four wheeler... and the third time I came out, or the forth time I came out and moved the last four wheeler, I was going back in and I was coming across the driveway and the front of the house blew out,” Virginia said as she described the fire.

The fire also burned down an adjacent rental unit that had three people in it. The day before, Virginia’s brother in law’s home, shop and storage unit burned down at mile 19 Chena Hot Springs Road.

These are the third and fourth suspected arsons to take place in Two Rivers. Earlier this summer a free store was burned to the ground in Two Rivers, and a short time later the arsonist attempted to burn down the community center building that was built by the McKees. Virginia said that they used an accelerant in two places but the fire went out before the building was destroyed. However, the inside was badly damaged.

No one has been injured in the fires yet, but Virginia is worried about the future. “It seems like soon enough somebody is going to die.” She also said that she has to wonder whether someone was targeting her family and trying to kill them.

Alaska State Trooper (AST) Captain Eric Spitzer suspects the fires are connected and purposeful.

“This is technically an act of domestic terrorism, serial arsons in business and residences in Two Rivers area. Somebody is systematically attacking the area of Two Rivers,” Spitzer said.

Spitzer says the troopers, Alaska State Fire Investigators and FBI are all working to catch the arsonist but need the community’s help. “We are reaching out to the community and asking for information. Someone has seen something suspicious, someone has an idea who this might be.”

Anyone with any information is urged to contact troopers at (907) 451-5100. Captain Spitzer said that those who wish to remain anonymous can do so. He also suggests residents of the area look for suspicious people, and consider using trail cameras and surveillance systems.

Spitzer says that until they can catch the person responsible, he suspects the fires will continue. He said that currently, they are investigating a letter that was sent claiming responsibility for the fires.

Spitzer said that at some point the arsonist will mess up, and AST will be there to catch them.

Virginia has a message for the arsonist: “If their intention was to destroy us, they failed. All they did was make the community stronger, it brought us all closer, tighter together.”

She said that they will rebuild and continue on with their life.

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