Rural Alaska

Southwest Alaska house fire kills child and injures another

A 9-year-old is dead and a 6-year-old seriously injured after a house fire Monday in a Southwest Alaska village near Bethel.

The children were alone in the Oscarville home when it caught fire Monday, said Alaska State Troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain.

Troopers believe the fire was “electrically caused and noncriminal.”

Oscarville is about four miles south of Bethel along the Kuskokwim River and does not have a fire department or an airstrip, DeSpain said.

The children were brought by boat to Bethel after they made it out of the home, troopers said. In good weather, the boat trip would take only about 15 minutes, but it took longer on Monday because of a storm and darkness, DeSpain said. The trip can take up to 45 minutes in poor conditions, he said.

The children were brought to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. when they reached Bethel, DeSpain said. The 9-year-old died and the 6-year-old was airlifted to an Anchorage hospital.

Troopers were notified about the fire just after 11 p.m. Monday and responded the next morning. The home was a total loss, DeSpain 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