Man found dead after barn fire

Central Emergency Services firefighters found a dead man after putting out a fire in a barn on Olivia Street in Kenai. 

Alaska State Troopers identified him as Othaniel Cooper, a 29-year-old man from Kenai. Cooper’s death was unrelated to the fire, however CES spokesperson Brad Nelson said they believe Cooper set the fire. 

Cooper is a former Air Force National Guard veteran, according to Department of Defense records. He is listed as the owner of the property, according to Kenai Peninsula Borough assessment records. 

The barn, built near the back of a property at 39902 Olivia Street also contained several animals, none of which were harmed, Nelson said. 

CES was called to put out a fire in the barn at 11:45 a.m. Saturday and when firefighters arrived, the fire had been largely extinguished by neighbors using a garden hose to spray the barn. 

“They went inside, we always do that sweep for people and we found someone to everybody’s surprise,” Nelson said. 

Nelson said it was quickly obvious that Cooper was deceased and no efforts were made to resuscitate him. 

“We secured the scene and waited for investigators from the Troopers office,” Nelson said. “We were able to determine that the fire was deliberately set ... there were no other ignition sources.”

Next of kin were notified and Cooper will be autopsied by the State Medical Examiner’s office according to a Troopers report. 

Reach Rashah McChesney at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

 

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