Man found dead outside Mat-Su home after he escaped fire, troopers say

A 59-year-old man was found dead outside his Sutton home early Wednesday, several hours after a fire was reported inside, Alaska State Troopers said.

A neighbor on Prospector Circle called 911 just after 11 p.m. Tuesday after noticing the blaze, said troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain.

First responders were concerned someone was still inside the home when the fire started, DeSpain said. Firefighters from Palmer and Sutton focused their initial efforts on the burning building and officials searched the entire property after the fire was controlled, DeSpain said.

Kevin Vance was located dead around 4 a.m. Wednesday, troopers said. He was about 100 feet from the home, according to DeSpain.

It appeared that Vance “died after he escaped the fire, possibly due to exposure,” troopers said.

Southcentral Alaska is experiencing some of the lowest temperatures of the season this week, with temperatures dropping in the double digits below zero Wednesday.

The fire was likely caused by a portable propane heater that was placed too close to a bed and caught the bedding on fire, DeSpain said in an email. Foul play was not suspected, he said.


Vance was the only person inside the home when the fire started, DeSpain said.

His body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner Office, troopers said. A deputy state fire marshal is assisting with the investigation, they said.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at