Fire knocks out sewer service in Emmonak, school closed

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EMMONAK, Alaska (KTUU) Students stayed home and parents scrambled to find babysitters across Emmonak today after a fire disrupted sewer services in the Western Alaska village.

Emmonak City Manager Martin Moore says a vacuum pump failure and related fire at the city water plant has left villagers without working sewage service. Moore fears pipes will freeze if the effort to replace the pump and electrical parts takes too long.

“No one can flush toilets or use water, otherwise the water, sewer will back up into the homes,” Moore said.

John Brady, principal of the 215-student school, said classes were canceled today after the early morning fire. The school is expected to remain closed for up to a week to 10 days, he said.

“They had more extensive damage than was thought," Brady said. "We are making plans to get the teachers some honeybuckets set up."

Emmonak is a community of 827 people, according to state estimates. It is 120 miles northwest of Bethel.

Residents said that water is available for drinking but wastewater cannot be disposed of.

“We have water but we just don’t have the capacity to get rid of the water in the toilets or sinks,” Brady said. “So no one is to be using their sinks, toilets, tubs, so forth.”

An official with the state Village Safe Water program did not immediately respond to requests for information.

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