Man arrested for arson after historic Anchorage home goes up in flames


Anchorage Police Department and Anchorage Fire Department responded to a residential fire on the 800-block of W 8th Avenue on Sunday, where a home was nearly fully engulfed in flames. Police spoke to a witness who gave the physical description of a man seen walking away from the burning building. An officer located that male nearby on H Street.

The male, later identified as 35-year-old Gary S. Morris, was holding a six-foot metal pipe, which he refused to put down even after multiple commands from the officer. 

Once backup units arrived, the first officer was able to take the pipe away from Morris, who dropped to the ground and was handcuffed.

Morris was transported to the Anchorage Police Department for questioning by detectives.  Afterwards he was remanded at the Anchorage Jail on the charges of Arson II, Resisting, Criminal Mischief III, and Violate Conditions of Release. He had been arrested earlier this month for criminal mischief and was released on bail.

The motive behind Morris starting the fire is still under investigation as is the means by which he started it.  Morris did not live at the home. Initial indications are that the residence, which is used in part as a bed-and-breakfast, was unoccupied and undergoing renovations.

The structure is one of the historic first houses built in Ship Creek-Anchorage, now known as the Amundsen House. It was built by Ernest Amundsen, who came to Alaska through Skagway in 1905 and built a cabin, then a house on the Anchorage lot, finishing it in the middle of the Great Depression.

Amundsen was a prospector and later postmaster of Anchorage and police chief.


  1. It doesn’t identify as a bed and breakfast. That would be a for profit enterprise and would have to pay bed taxes and property taxes. Instead it is tax exempt as it identifies as the following: Amundsen Youth Services provides affordable housing for Alaska’s LGBTQI homeless youth and young adults (and friends). We are open all year and provide housing to those who need it most.

    Owner, according to the MOA Appraisal website is Amundsen Hostel Youth Services, a non profit. I wonder how many 501(3)c non profits are in this town sucking up community services and not paying property taxes on properties. I suspect the property values that are exempt are in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • I can’t feel sorry for another democrat voter taking a loss of property or business because of this town’s Democrat leadership. The owner suffering snd financial setback actually is consoling while the rest of the city is suffering under Democratic leaders thoughtless leadership. The homeowner thinks they won’t be impacted by the bad democratic decisions being made over this city until a fire licks up their property or they became a victim of violence by a violent homeless man.

      • Jen, are you celebrating a house burning down because you think it was owned by a Democrat? Aren’t you frequently quoting scripture and telling us Must Readers that we need to be more like Jesus? WWJB–What Would Jesus Burn, Jen?

      • As I’ve said before, I hope to be a fly on the wall when you come face to face with your Creator.

        It’s not gonna go as you think it will. Not at all.

        Matthew 7:3-5.

    • I can tell you that the majority of those tax exempt properties are churches, so you would be right to assume it’s in the millions of dollars.

    • Yes,
      The dress business on the corner of Arctic and Benson also has a radio station and apartments is not taxed at all $0. The coffee place on the corner of Arctic and 36th land also pays $0. Here are two on one hall mile street.

      • There is no coffee shop at 36th and Arctic, and if you mean Sweet Caribou, they rent a space in a larger strip mall. And the “dress business” must be Rose’s Tailor, but they’ve been paying taxes every year, about $2,300 this year alone. That said, if Rose’s owner also has a radio station, you should identify where it is…

    • Absolutely, as I have been saying. The only growth industry here are the “Non” profits. A Big ole’ pyramid scheme using educated fools, paid at capitalist, for profit salaries. Many of these cons don’t even portray a “Mission” statement or mantra of “ending” homelessness! Just as our Assembly and our TV stations.. constant whining and yammering doing what doesn’t work over and over. And what do we call that?

      • Go over to the Pick Click Give website and you’ll find a gazillion of these non-profits. With as little information as a PO Box and not much else. Just look under the animal rescue section. It’s really sad how many people give vast amounts of money to the animal rescues and don’t even pay attention to the fact there is zero information about where your money goes.

  2. It is a historical building, it should NOT BE USED as a B&B..and it should also not be for homeless regardless of who are the homeless. B&B’s are set up for visitors and outsiders, not permanent housing for locals whoever they are.

  3. Yep, normal, sane, mentally healthy people routinely wander around downtown with 6 foot metal poles. It’s all the rage!

    Another degradation of society that can be squarely laid at the Marxist Nine’s doorstep.

  4. Always helps to understand the mayhem when the details filter in.
    May have been some deranged tenants in the past or present?
    Or someone just looking for a place to get high? Not sure what he was smoking with the pipe…?

  5. The only permit it has right now is for work on the mechanical and plumbing systems (i.e. water heater, boiler, furnace, etc.).

  6. Hundreds of mentally ill people roaming the streets unsupervised. What could possibly go wrong. I know, let the democrats handle it, they always know what’s best.

  7. Wonder if the arson will be found to have been a previous tenant of this nonprofit hostel who had a disagreement. Certainly Ernest Amundsen would not have been pleased with the use of his name and prior home in such a way, but he was never consulted, that much is safe to say.

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