Kasigluk man dies after setting fire in jail holding cell

The village of Kasigluk (Gabby Salgado/KYUK)

A Kasigluk man died Tuesday in a fire he set while being held in a tribal jail cell according to Alaska State Troopers, who say he wasn’t properly searched when he was taken into custody.

Trooper spokesperson Tim DeSpain named the man Wednesday as 36-year-old Kyle V. White of Kasigluk. DeSpain said that at about 3:20 a.m. Tuesday, troopers got a call about a fatal structure fire in Kasigluk, a community of about 650 people on the Johnson River roughly 26 miles northwest of Bethel.

“Troopers contacted the tribal police in Kasigluk, and they stated that Kyle White had been placed into a holding cell at the Kasigluk tribal jail due to intoxication. And while he was in the holding cell, a fire started inside the cell. Once the fire was contained, Kyle was located deceased inside,” DeSpain said.

DeSpain also said that Kasigluk tribal police told troopers that White had been belligerent, caused a disturbance and bit one of the tribal police officers’ fingers before being detained for a 12-hour sleep-off.

But DeSpain said that the tribal police officers did not properly search White.

“It was reported to troopers during the course of the investigation that a lighter was discovered inside the cell. That was determined to be what had started the fire with a mattress, so he was able to get that lighter into the cell … without a proper search,” DeSpain said.

DeSpain said that that although adults over 21 can drink alcohol in the state of Alaska, local law in Kasigluk makes it illegal to possess or consume alcohol in the village.

After the initial call about the fire and the deceased person, DeSpain said that state troopers and a deputy fire marshal responded to Kasigluk.

“Kasigluk TPOs basically were completely handling the sleep-off responsibilities, and the troopers and fire marshals weren’t brought in until there was a need for the investigation of the fire,” DeSpain said.

DeSpain said that White did have prior criminal history, but he could not comment about White’s mental health history.

Previous articleAlaska News Nightly: Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Next articleDunleavy seeks to name Fairbanks airport after Alaska’s late Rep. Don Young