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Man found dead in Fairview displaced by apartment fire

Casey Grove

An elderly man displaced when fire damaged his apartment this month was the person found dead near trash bins in Fairview on Saturday, Anchorage police said Wednesday.

Police identified the man found about 7 a.m. Saturday near 15th Avenue and Fairbanks Street as Gonzalo Flores, 70.

Though investigators are awaiting final autopsy results, Sgt. Slawomir Markiewicz said foul play did not appear to play a role in Flores' death and that alcohol and hypothermia were likely to blame.

"We had a witness that called and said they saw him drinking the night before," Markiewicz said. The witness described Flores by name and saw him drinking outside near where his body was found, Markiewicz said.

Police said Flores and his family were unable to live in an apartment on Homestead Court after a fire Dec. 4.

Flores' daughter-in-law, 41-year-old Angelica Flores, was found dead on the apartment's first floor, police said. Three others escaped out a second-floor window, including her husband, her son and her 3-year-old granddaughter, police said.

Police say the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Red Cross offered to assist in housing the family, but the family declined and opted to stay with other family members, said Red Cross spokeswoman Katie Bender. She said the family told her staff that Gonzalo Flores did not live with them, so he would not have been eligible for housing assistance.

"That can be his address, but if he's not physically living there we have no way to verify that other than what his family was telling us," Bender said.

Gonzalo Flores was apparently not at the apartment when it burned, but he lived there with the rest of the family, Markiewicz said.

Flores told police he stayed at the apartment and was a frequent visitor to the Anchorage Rescue Mission, Markiewicz said. His son told investigators Flores stayed at the apartment "on and off" and paid the rent there, the detective said.

The son, Marco Flores Sr., has now lost his father and his wife in the same month, Markiewicz said.

A medical examiner will make a final determination on the cause of Gonzalo Flores' death once toxicology results are available, police said.

Flores is the only person to be found dead outside in Anchorage so far this winter, Markiewicz said.

Though it wasn't particularly cold the night Flores died, with low temperatures in the mid-20s, it's common that such weather can kill, Markiewicz said. People are often more cautious about drinking to the point of incapacitation outside when it's cold, he said. When the weather warms, "they let their guard down," Markiewicz said.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News