Rural Alaska

Woman and 5 children die in Northwest Alaska house fire

A woman and five children died in a house fire early Wednesday in the Northwest Alaska village of Noorvik, Alaska State Troopers said.

The fire in a single-family home on the eastern side of town started around 6 a.m., said Chris Hatch, Northwest Arctic Borough public safety director. Local firefighters put out the blaze, and the structure was reported to be a total loss, he said.

Troopers, deputy state fire marshals and village public safety officers recovered the remains of six people, troopers reported on Thursday.

“It is believed that one adult female and five children were in the residence at the time of the fire,” troopers said. The children believed to be in the house when the fire began were between the ages of 9 and 16, according to troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain.

The fire appears to have started near a stove, troopers said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Hatch said that the fire consumed the three-bedroom house built in the 1970s, causing part of the roof to collapse and leaving just the foundation, deck and some walls still standing.


Officers were sending the remains to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage for identification.

Multiple residents of Noorvik and surrounding villages shared words of support on social media starting Wednesday after word of the fire began to spread.

Next-of-kin notification efforts were ongoing Thursday, troopers said.

Noorvik is a village of about 650 residents roughly 45 miles east of Kotzebue.

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Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.