Skip to main Content

Human remains found after fire burns cabin west of Willow belonging to lodge caretaker

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: February 13
  • Published February 12

State fire officials are investigating a fire that destroyed a cabin near a fishing lodge 50 miles west of Willow. Human remains were found at the fire scene, Alaska State Troopers said Friday.

The cabin belonged to the winter caretaker of the Wilderness Place Lodge, a sportfishing lodge located along Lake Creek, troopers said in an online report. The creek runs south of Denali National Park and Preserve.

The lodge’s owner contacted troopers on Monday, saying they “had not heard from the lodge’s winter caretaker after he missed a weekly check-in,” according to troopers.

The lodge owner said a resident in the area had snowmachined over to reach the caretaker and found the cabin “had been burned to the ground with no signs of recent activity or the caretaker,” according to troopers. Deputy fire marshals with the Alaska Department of Public Safety flew to the lodge Thursday to investigate and found human remains at the site of the fire, troopers said.

Investigating deputy fire marshals say the cause of the fire is “undetermined,” according to troopers.

Jason Rockvam and Cory Wendt share ownership of the lodge, according to state business records.

Wendt, reached Friday, said the cabin was located on one end of the property away from the lodge. He said he could not provide additional comment.

The remains have been recovered and transported to the State Medical Examiner for positive identification and autopsy, troopers said.

Troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said additional details about the victim will be released after positive identification of the remains are made, and next of kin are contacted.

“The cabin was the only item burned out there,” he said.

McDaniel said weather issues prevented deputy fire marshals from reaching the area in the troopers’ Piper Super Cub on Tuesday and Wednesday. The investigators arrived by helicopter Thursday, he said.