Alaska fire officials say the burned Gastineau Apartments building, in Juneau, has long been considered a high risk building.
Nathan Young, the fire department’s chief training officer, says lack of a sprinkler system, numerous void spaces and poor exterior access are among factors that make the 95-year-old downtown building a dangerous “target hazard” in terms of firefighting.
The Juneau Empire says other older buildings in the downtown historic area are considered hazards, particularly because they are close to each other and are not required to have sprinkler systems.
City officials say buildings are subjected to codes in place at the time they were built.
Young says the fire department has recommended retrofitting the buildings in the past, but the idea was usually met with resistance because of the cost involved.