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Man charged with arson in fire that damaged downtown Anchorage house

By Tess Williams

Updated: August 29, 2023 Published: August 28, 2023

Police say a downtown Anchorage fire Sunday afternoon that seriously damaged a house was intentionally set by a man described in charging documents as using tiki torches to start the blaze.

The Anchorage Police Department morris-charged-in-arson-fire-on-h-street”said in an update Monday that officers located 35-year-old Gary Stephen Morris about a block from the fire after a witness described a shirtless man matching his description walking away from the burning building.

The fire at 810 W. Eighth Ave. was reported around 3:30 p.m. and sent a thick plume of smoke into the sky. The building sits between Skinny Raven Sports and a branch of Credit Union One. Anchorage firefighters and police responded. Police said the house was unoccupied due to ongoing renovations.

Morris was carrying a 6-foot metal pipe when he was contacted by officers, police said.

He was medically evaluated and told a first responder that he started the fire, according to a summary of police reports written by Assistant District Attorney Alice Curci and filed with charges, including arson.

Morris was brought to the police department, where he told detectives that he broke a window of the house and lived there for several days last week before the owners found him and told him to leave, according to the summary.

The owners did not report Morris’ first break-in to police, and he entered the house again on Sunday by pulling off a wooden board over a window he previously broke to gain access, the summary said.

“Morris said he was angry and frustrated due to people stealing his property and constantly accusing

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Best Sustainable Vacation Destination in Every State

Anchorage, Alaska, has a mountainous state park for camping and bird-watching.

A coastline with several high-rises in front of a blue mountainous background.

Anchorage has more than 120 miles of paved bike and multiuse trails.

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Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, has a special focus on sustainable tourism efforts.

Its tourism organization, Visit Anchorage, says it has a sustainable-travel policy and is certified through the Adventure Green Alaska program, which “recognizes and promotes model Alaska tourism businesses who practice economic, environmental, social, and cultural sustainability.”

In Chugach State Park, you can hike, camp, and bird-watch at several dedicated nature reserves. And there are more than 120 miles of paved bike and multiuse trails around the city for exploring, such as the Moose Loop, a 30-mile moose-shaped trail.

Travelers can stop by Grow North Farm, an urban farm and marketplace that says it provides land for more than 20 neighborhood farmers and independent businesses, all of refugee or immigrant backgrounds.

There are plenty of farm-to-table or ocean-to-table dining options, with same-day-caught salmon and other seafood, as well as fresh greens.

Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop is a good option for breakfast, lunch, or a snack. The artisanal bakery’s website says it uses local ingredients where it makes sense, “based on what we would feed ourselves and our families.” 

For dining with a twist, Bear Tooth Theatrepub is another great option. The movie theater serves food such as pizzas and burritos made with local ingredients whenever possible, according to its website. It also serves local beer from Broken Tooth Brewing on draft.

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