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.
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.
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