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Fires claim Wasilla home, Valley landmark

March 6, 2014
Fire destroyed the old Oberg barn on Palmer Fishhook Wednesday afternoon.
Facebook photo posted by  Holly Christensen
While police and Alaska State Troopers were kept busy on Valley roads, streets and highways Wednesday, Valley firefighters were also kept busy, responding to a house fire in Wasilla and a barn fire on Palmer Fishhook. Both structures, one a Valley landmark for years, were lost.

Shortly after 3 p.m. March 5, Central Mat-Su and West Lakes fire fighters and rescue personnel were called to the house fire on Pintail Circle in Wasilla near the intersection of Sheldon and Schrock Roads.

Firefighters were able to bring the fire under control quickly; one person in the home was transported to the hospital by ambulance for smoke inhalation.

A short time later, additional area fire department personnel were called out to a fire near mile 3 on Palmer Fishhook Road, where a red barn that had stood for decades burned to the ground. While the Valley landmark was destroyed, no people or livestock were hurt.

June and Clyde Oberg began selling milk to Matanuska Maid from their Fishhook Dairy farm in 1954 and built the big red barn themselves, by hand.

"This afternoon my beloved grandparents' barn burned down," Holly Christensen posted to Facebook shortly after the blaze was brought under control. "This thing has been around for decades and is practically a Valley landmark, once housing dairy cows, now the home to other animals and a storage place for snowmachines, equipment, and family keepsakes and valuables. Breaks my heart to see this great barn (that my Grannie and Grandpa
built with their own two hands so many years ago) burn down, but then I think, 'I'm so glad it wasn't their house!' So sad to know that so many of their possessions were lost, but then I think, 'at least no one was hurt and at least the animals got out!'"

"Just drove by it on Monday," Jackie Kotter replied. "Sharing fond memories with my husband. Sad, Indeed."

"Grandpa's barn just happened to burn down on the day it snowed a heavy, wet snow after a windy, dry winter," Holly wrote. "I hate to think how that fire could have spread and what buildings or even homes could have burned down were this fire to have happened a week ago. My heart is still broken for my grandparents, but I can't help but to feel that through it all, The Lord is still mindful of us, loves us, and watches over us."

The Obergs were honored when the Alaska Division of Agriculture named the the Oberg-Kenley Family, who ran the 160-acre spread, as the 2009 Farm Family of the Year.

The causes of both fires remain under investigation.
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