Soldotna man dies after saving wife from fire

  • By Staff Report
  • Thursday, November 26, 2015 3:31pm
  • News

Updated at 4:50 p.m.:

It is unknown why 90-year-old John Kelsch, who died in his home on Rainbow Drive in Soldotna Thanksgiving morning, was unable to get out when it caught fire.

Sgt. Eugene Fowler, of the Alaska State Troopers E Detachment, said first responders were unable to get to him once they arrived on scene. Central Emergency Services sent 10 vehicles to put the fire out, said Acting Captain John Evans.

“They put the fire out, but the structure wasn’t salvageable,” Fowler said.

While the cause is thought to be a small heater, Fowler said it is not yet known where that heater was located in the house when the fire started. The State Fire Marshal’s office will include the fire’s cause and background information about the house in their investigation, Fowler said.

Kelsch’s remains were removed from the destroyed home later on, said Alaska State Troopers Public Information Officer Beth Ipsen in an email.


Original Story:

A 90-year-old man woke his 87-year-old wife up Thanksgiving morning to tell her the house was on fire. She made it out alive, he did not.

Soldotna resident John Kelsch died in the couple’s Mackey Lake Road area home early Thursday. Frances Kelsch made it out to a neighbor to call for help, according to an Alaska State Trooper Dispatch.

The Soldotna Public Safety Communication Center got her call at about 7:14 a.m. Troopers responded along with Central Emergency Services. They believe the fire started because of a small heater in the house, according to the dispatch.

John Kelsch’s body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner. The State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the fire.


Reach the newsroom at

More in News

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander sits inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ostrander to leave City of Kenai in January

Ostrander has served as the city manager since 2017

Melanie Hardin, right, greets the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees before her interview for the APFC’s executive director’s job Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Permanent Fund board picks new executive director

Trustees work overtime selecting from three candidates after interviews Monday

A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Libraries host haunted houses, scary storytimes, seasonal crafts

It’s all about Halloween at Kenai and Soldotna libraries

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out elements of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Aging school on the brink

Renovations are cost prohibitive at Soldotna Elementary

Most Read