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Fire Destroys Old Tazlina River Trading Post

Polar Remedies/video screenshot

Investigators are looking into the cause of a fire that destroyed the historic Tazlina River Trading Post, near Glennallen, over the weekend.

Nobody was hurt in the fire that destroyed the trading post Sunday afternoon, along with an adjacent hair salon and gift shop. But the loss of the old historic structure shocked people who live in the community and the nearby town of Glennallen.

“I know the community is feeling the loss. That place has been there forever,” says Jason Barno, the general manager of The Hub of Alaska, a gas station and convenience store at the intersection of the Richardson and Glenn highways about four miles north of Tazlina.

Barno says he hopes to chip in on efforts to help those who were displaced by the fire.     

“I’m sure more than a few of us would help out, if given the opportunity,” he said.

Credit Polar Remedies/video screenshot
The black column of smoke that arose from the fire could be seen from miles away.

The trading post was built in 1958 near milepost 111 of the Richardson Highway. Local residents James and Wanda Horrell bought it in 1971 and have operated it since. The trading post served as a gas station, grocery store and mercantile for the locals and essential stopover for folks just passing through on their way to or from Chitina or Valdez.

The Horrells weren’t available Monday, nor was the local fire chief.

Alaska State Troopers estimated damages at over a million dollars. A Trooper spokesperson says that includes the destroyed trading post and several vehicles and heavy equipment that were stored in and around the structure.

The spokesperson said Monday that a warehouse behind the trading post was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at around 1:30 Sunday afternoon. Personnel from GlennRich Fire Rescue and the Gakona Volunteer Fire Department weren’t able to save the warehouse or trading post, but they did keep the fire from spreading to a nearby residence.

A deputy fire marshal from Anchorage joined the investigation Monday. But the Trooper spokesperson said the cause of the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.