2 found dead after residential fires in Mat-Su

a hat
An Alaska State Trooper hat (Alaska Public Media file photo)

Alaska State Troopers say two people were found dead Tuesday after separate Mat-Su residential fires, including a man who escaped his burning home but died outside it.

Troopers said in an online dispatch that 59-year-old Kevin Vance of Sutton was killed in a fire reported at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, at a home on Sutton’s Prospector Circle. Fire crews didn’t discover his body until 4 a.m. Wednesday.

“Initial investigation revealed (Vance) died after he escaped the fire, possibly due to exposure,” troopers wrote.

National Weather Service records for a weather station in nearby Palmer just before midnight Wednesday listed the temperature at 7 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 23 below zero.

Troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said Thursday that firefighters were immediately concerned that the home had been occupied. After the fire, responders began a full search of the property and found Vance’s body about 100 feet from the residence.

DeSpain said a portable propane heater likely caused the fire. He said it was “next to a bed which would have caught the bedding on fire.” No foul play is suspected in Vance’s death, according to troopers.

The other fatal fire, near Wasilla, was reported around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Fire crews responded to a burning tow-behind trailer being used as a residence. They found the body of the trailer’s sole occupant inside, and DeSpain said deputy state fire marshals were working to determine the fire’s origin and cause.

Both Vance’s body and the one found in Wasilla were sent to the state medical examiner’s office for autopsies. Troopers were working to positively identify the Wasilla body, with attempts to notify family still in progress Thursday.

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at cklint@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Chris here.

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