Alaska News

Galena family’s cabins destroyed by fire, and a threatening note was found at the scene, family says

Three cabins burned down overnight Friday on the banks of the Yukon River, north of Galena, and a threatening note was left behind, according to one of the cabin owners.

Joyce Huntington said Sunday that three of her family's cabins — hers, her sister's and her mother's — were all destroyed.

"I'm just at a loss for words right now because I can't believe it happened," Huntington said. "We had the camp, the cabin all our lives pretty much."

On Saturday, Huntington's nephew had traveled about 12 miles north of Galena on the Yukon River to the family's fish camp. There, he discovered the three cabins burning. The night before, another family member had been at the cabins as late as 11 p.m., and everything was fine, Huntington said.

The nephew called the Bureau of Land Management as soon as he was able to get into cellphone range, Huntington said. By the time she heard the news and made it to the cabins, BLM was there, putting out the fire. Huntington said her family found a threatening note by the cabins, but it was unclear whether it was directed at them.

Fish camps dot the Yukon River. Huntington said other cabins had been vandalized, with similar notes left in those locations, but her family's cabins were the only ones to have been burned. Alaska State Troopers did not immediately confirm these details.

Troopers did confirm that three cabins were destroyed in fires north of Galena. The Bureau of Land Management helped to put out the fires around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, calling them "suspicious in nature," wrote Megan Peters, troopers spokesperson. Troopers are investigating, Peters said.


Huntington said her 20-by-20-foot cabin had electricity, a generator, internet and a television. "We had everything in there," she said. It was about 15 years old.

"We spent a lot of hours and money building that cabin," Huntington said.

The Huntingtons' three cabins had been built over the decades. Her mother's cabin was built by Huntington's father, Edward Pitka, who died more than 20 years ago. Her mother is 90 years old, Huntington said.

The loss of the cabins is devastating for the family, she said.

"I'm 60 years old, I can't rebuild. I'm getting ready to retire myself," she said.

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.