Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Newtok school power plant destroyed by fire

On Thursday night, the Newtok Ayaprun School power plant caught fire after the generator ran out of fuel. The power plant was destroyed; however, no other structures are reported damaged, according to the State Emergency Operations Center, in a Friday report.

The school is not connected to the village power source and the community is working with the Lower Kuskokwim School District to provide a temporary generator to keep heat and water on in the school.

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The Newtok washeteria is also not working and residents have been using Ayaprun School as their water source. The village had not made any immediate requests for assistance, and the plan was to further assess damages, the SEOC reported. The agency is coordinating with local, state, tribal and other partners in support of the community.

The village, located about 95 miles north of Bethel, has about 200 residents. Newtok Ayaprun School has a fluctuating enrollment as students relocate to Mertarvik, where there is a new school built at the townsite where the entire community is planning to move, due to coastal erosion. In the 22-23 school year, there are approximately 40 students with three certified teachers, three Yugtun speaking teachers, and additional support staff at Newtok Ayuprun.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. There is a reasonably high probability that there is another story contained within “after the generator ran out of fuel”…

    • Yeah, that phrase makes zero sense. More likely they ran it out of oil (a real common syndrome out in the Bush) or it “ran away on its own oil”.

  2. Well since they’re moving to a new location, no need to freak out. They just saved money having to move the generator.

  3. Well, it caught fire after the generator ran out of fuel. The power plant was destroyed, so …..whose fault was it and how could it be avoided in the future?

    The State will likely pay for another power plant (with or without Federal assistance) since Newtok is not one of the 24 incorporated cities, towns, or boroughs out of 165 in the State of AK that have a property tax/sales tax authority to pay for such a power plant. The unincorporated areas of the state do not have the legal authority to levy a tax (sales/property) nor does Newtok have the population to support a property tax at 200 residents. ‘

  4. Sorry North but the Genset did not run out of fuel. Please stop hateful rhetoric. Newtok people are very nice and don’t deserve this.

    • PL – Settle down. It is not hateful rhetoric, it is literally, and matter of factly, in the first sentence of the article.

  5. No problem, we’ll build them a new at a cost of about 160 million. Plus 5g internet cuz you know…….village.

    • Steve -O, probably the best comment on this page. ? ?.

      In my life experience, the motto K.I.S.S. or ” keep it simple, stupid” has seldom proven not to be the true. Especially so when one is talking about mechanical systems operating in far flung places where supplies and maintenance are problematic.

  6. A long time ago I was in a village of about the same number of residents in north western Alaska. The man in charge of the village generator let the smaller tank run out of diesel fuel after a plane load of booze came to the village. Three quarters of the village got falling down drunk including the man in charge of the generator. After three days of parting, he came to me holding a 1/2 drunk bottle of vodka and offered me some if I would help him get the generator started again. I refused the vodka, but got the generator going and became the hero of the village. Luckily this was in August and not in the winter time, but many people had to eat a lot of the meat and other things stored in their freezers right away. The village store had their own back up generator.

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