Sitka Basketball Team Saves Lives, Rescued People From Anchorage Fire

March 25, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

The Sitka basketball team and their coach are being hailed as heroes after they saved several people from a burning apartment. According to Alaska officials, the Sitka High basketball players were heading to breakfast before a tournament when they spotted the blaze, and they stopped to help those in danger.

Sitka basketball

The Sitka basketball team along with their coach, Andy Lee, are making headlines, thanks to their courage. On Thursday, the team was heading to the state’s 3A basketball tournament at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska when they spotted an apartment building on fire.

The coach took the wise decision to ask his players to call the authorities as he ran into the burning apartment complex to save the tenants. Lee explained his decision:

“And I realized that no one was out of the apartment. So I dispersed the guys to the perimeter to look for exterior doors and windows, because it was too involved for me to put them at risk.”

Some of the young basketball players alerted the authorities while others guided occupants, who were disoriented from the fire across the street. Lee rushed in the entryway and pounded on all the doors of residents, who were asleep. Lee shared:

“One lady, after we got 10 out, said her baby was still inside. And by that time it was more than fully engulfed. And in that moment of panic, as we were trying to decide what to do, a 14-year-old girl came running out through the only exit point in the building — and she was the baby. And so everybody got out safe.”

When firefighters arrived on the scene, the courageous basketball team “let the professionals take over,” and headed to breakfast. According to the Anchorage Fire Department, it took about 45 minutes to tame the blaze and there were no injuries, but 25 people have been displaced.

Mohammed Adad, a resident of the building, spoke to local media explaining that he and his family could see flames outside the windows as they ran down the stairs. He added that none of the fire alarms appeared to be working and is grateful to Lee for saving his life. The survivor said:

“Somebody came from outside, said, ‘Get out, everybody, get out, everybody — fire, fire!'”

Fire officials have not yet determined what caused the fire, but spokesman John See thinks that it may have started on the balcony, which is why the alarms did not work. See said:

“We believe it started on the deck, the upstairs right one. Because it was an external fire, there was no fire alarm sounding — until you have a window break from the heat, nothing sounds inside.”

Lee and the entire community are very proud of the basketball team.

What are your thoughts on the Sitka basketball heroism?

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    1. Daphne Macklin says:

      Observant young people working with a competent, compassionate and thoughtful adult. Result an amazing act of both heroism as well as citizenship. In short, this is why youth sports activities are important. This is an activity that teaches positive values, repeat positive values. Good job team and thank you Coach.

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