Arson? Anchorage Gay Float was torched *UPDATES* AFD needs our help!

UPDATE 3: The Butners have verified that the insurance inspector has not made a final report. That information came from a usually reliable source, but is incorrect and has been removed from the main post. My apologies to the Butners and the community for this series of misunderstandings and updates.

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UPDATE 2: The Anchorage Fire Department has now posted their report HERE. "At this time, the cause will be listed as undetermined. The AFD Fire Investigator is seeking the public's help in identifying an unknown white male who was observed in the area by a witness only moments before the fire was discovered. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Anchorage Fire Department's Arson Hotline 267-5060 or Anchorage Crime Stoppers (561-STOP)." So it was probably arson, but they call it undetermined until they catch the guy.

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CORRECTION: [The report stating that the fire was arson came from the insurance fire inspector. -- this information is incorrect and has been removed from the post.] The Anchorage Fire Department is still seeking information that will lead to the arrest of the potential arsonist and has not released a report yet. [The report is released and linked above.] Apologies for the confusion.

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The Anchorage Fire Department has concluded [correction: is seeking the public's help in identifying an unknown white male who was observed in the area by a witness only moments before the fire was discovered and may have] deliberately burned down a Gay Pride Float two days before it would appear in the city's 4th of July parade.

The fire also destroyed the garage and damaged the house of Ken and Paula Butner, allies who kept the Imperial Court's float in a car tent in front of the garage. Their daughter was awakened around 5:30 a.m. on July 2 by the sound of paint cans exploding outside her window, and she woke the rest of the family. Luckily, no one was injured.
"They have finally finished the investigation, and said that it is not our fault or an accident," wrote Paula. "They said that it was started by someone! They are still asking for information from anyone who may know who started it."
The LGBTA community rallied and built a new float in less than 48 hours that included burned pieces salvaged from the original. They named the new float Phoenix Rising, and it won the Grand Prize in the July 4th parade.

Meanwhile, the city Fire Inspector labeled the fire "suspicious" and asked the state to assist in the investigation.
"This has been a horrible situation for everyone involved, and worse to know that this may have been a targeted crime," wrote Miss MeMe, Empress of the Imperial Court of All Alaska.

"I have been incredibly proud that our community has shown great courage and Pride, and I know that we will continue to work together to conquer hate towards our community and its allies. We also continue to support the Butners during what has been a challenging time for them, and continue to be grateful for all of the support they have shown the LGBTA community over the years."
A fund was set up to help the Butners repair their home and rebuild their garage, with security cameras and a big enough garage to store the float inside. A fundraising dinner has been announced for August 14 to replace the destroyed float equipment.
"Insurance will not cover the sound equipment belonging to Daphne Do All LaChores, emcee of Drag Queen Bingo and PrideFest Parade announcer," wrote Phyllis of Identity, Inc.

Hence, a fundrai$er to replace the equipment—a spaghetti feed with salad on Saturday afternoon, August 14, 2010, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm at Guido's, 549 W. International Road. Tickets $10.00 per person, $5.00 under 10 years old. $5.50 of every adult ticket sold will go to Daph. There will also be a 50/50 split the pot and silent auction to raise funds for the equipment."
Daphne rode the Imperial Court float and dished to the crowds at both the July 4th parade and the Fur Rondy parade in February, and is co-host of the Friday Night Diva Show. Daphne and the Butners have organized the creation of the Imperial Court's annual float since 2002.
"We lost our trailer and all of the sound equipment, tools and supplies," Daphne commented on Linda's photo essay of the fire. "Ken and I started to upgrade the space into a workshop and storage facility to house all of the decorations and scraps of previous award winning floats. It's all gone now."
Tickets to the spaghetti feed fundraiser are on sale at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage, 336 East 6th Avenue. Cash or check donations will also be accepted.

If you have any information that might lead to the arrest of the arsonist, please contact the Anchorage Fire Department.

When Mayor Sullivan vetoed the equal rights ordinance last year, he said there was no evidence of anti-gay prejudice in Anchorage. Does he still think that? No one was injured - this time. What will it take for the mayor and city assembly to pass and sign, or override the veto and approve, a law that protects the LGBT residents of Anchorage?


- hat tip to Linda of Celtic Diva for her report on the fire, and the photo of the burned float. The Phoenix Rising photo is from Daphne's Facebook page.

2 comments:

Albert Lewis said...

This is not a surprise. While many LGBT people are hot, they're not so hot that their *float will spontaneously combust!

Anonymous said...

Sad...sad...sad.....I too wonder if the great mayor sullivan still thinks there is NO anti-LGBT/LBGT sentiment in Anchorage. If he does he is more disconnected from reality than I thought he was previously.

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