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Crime & Courts

Elderly man caught on video starting fire at door of South Anchorage home

A home-security video shows an elderly man walking onto a South Anchorage porch and starting a fire last week, and police are still seeking a suspect.

The homeowner was able to extinguish the blaze that charred part of the door and the exterior, a family member said. He was there with his four, mostly adult, children.

But the family doesn’t recognize the man, and his identity and motive remain a mystery.

The fire occurred early Oct. 16 at the Mona Avenue home of Ian VanBlankenstein, according to his ex-wife. Four of their five children, ages 17 to 27, were there when it happened.

“The kids have been sleeping in shifts because they want someone watching the house and they are very shook up,” Ruth Bezdek VanBlankenstein said in a message. “It’s confusing to all of us.”

The video shows an older white man getting out of an older gray or silver Subaru or Toyota wagon and walking up to the house carrying what appear to be a box of matches in one hand and a gas can in the other.

Soon, flames flicker from the corner of the porch and the man walks away, leaning on the railing as he goes down a step. Then he turns around and comes back to adjust something, still carrying the matches.

Inside, one of the sons heard a noise, his mother said. He and his father put out the fire within a few minutes and called the police and fire departments. The flames charred the paint on the door and a side wall.

Patrol officers and fire crews responded at about 12:55 a.m., Anchorage police said.

There were no updates on this case as of Tuesday, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Kendra Doshier said. The fire remains under investigation.

Her ex-husband and sons “keep going over every possibility from maybe it was meant for another house or maybe they accidentally cut someone off in traffic, etc.,” Bezdek VanBlankenship said. “The biggest fear is that if it’s specifically targeting one of them, will he return?”

Anyone with information about this investigation or who recognizes the suspect is asked to contact Detective DenBleyker at Lucas.DenBleyker@anchorageak.gov or call 3-1-1.

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