Story & photo
by Dan Davidson
Another Dawson heritage building surrendered to fire on the morning of September 20. The former Bear Creek residence belonging to Peggy Kormendy and her late husband, Steve, went up in flames in the wee hours of the morning.
Deputy Fire Chief David “Buffalo” Taylor reports that the fire department got the call at 4:27 a.m. and arrived at the building, located at the corner of Third Avenue and York Street, to find it “fully engaged”.
Seventeen members of the department responded to the call and the fire was fought from the time they arrived at the scene until 9:30 the next morning. There was no hope of saving the building, which was an old structure containing both sawdust and fiberglass insulation.
There was a continuous drizzle going on during the battle, which was a bit of help as there was also a stiff breeze blowing sparks south onto the next block. Taylor says some fire fighters were detailed to keep an eye on that block for any possible ignitions.
The building was empty and has not been in use as a residence since not long after the 1979 flood according to Peggy Kormendy. The basement was flooded at that time and the other water damage made the family decide to relocate. Power was kept on at the building in order to run the army style freezers in the outbuilding next to York Street. That was also badly burned.
Taylor says the investigation of the fire went on all day until about 7 that night and the preliminary analysis is that the cause was electrical. The point of origin seems to have been near the electrical panel. A definitive decision will be reached after the Yukon Fire Marshall’s office has run its own investigation.
There was no one in the house.
By the end of the weekend the unsafe charred shell of the building had been leveled to address possible safety concerns.
Contractor Jim Williams, who is also a member of the town’s Historic Advisory Committee, notes that it is a shame to lose the building. It was one of the ones that he was used to directing people to look at if they wanted to use shingles instead of cove siding on the exterior of their homes. He’s hoping there are enough photographs of the building to act as references.