FAIRBANKS, Alaska – A raging fire destroyed a gas station convenience store near Alaska's Denali National Park Sunday night and injured several people, including three who were hospitalized, authorities said.
Crews suspect an explosion near a checkout counter inside the store possibly touched off the fire in Cantwell, said Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Mike Roberts.
"The fire has fully engulfed the structure," Roberts told The Associated Press.
The area around the station was cordoned off as a precaution against a gasoline or propane explosion.
"Basically, they're sealing off the area, not letting anyone in, making sure it's clear of people," he said.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported later that the fire fighters were able to keep the flames away from the gasoline tanks and the propane tank, and by 10 p.m. the blaze had greatly diminished.'
Roberts anticipated crews would be on scene all night putting out the smoldering fire.
Several people were treated on the scene for minor burns, but two people were hospitalized with burns and another with head and back injuries, Roberts said.
The News-Miner reported that high winds caused problems for the firefighters, who came from three area departments.
Roberts said the scene was too convulsed to make an exact determination if the suspected blast was the cause. He said investigators would be on the scene through the night and state fire marshals would respond in the morning.
Cantwell is located just outside the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and about 175 miles north of Anchorage.