Investigators probe fatal fire near Fairbanks

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Authorities on Saturday continued to investigate a fatal apartment fire near Fairbanks.

The body of a person believed to be a woman was found Friday in a bedroom of the nine-unit building in Ester.

''Based on the size of the victim they thought it might be a female,'' Alaska State Trooper Capt. Greg Tanner told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on Friday. ''I know there is a female that lives there that is not accounted for.''

Tanner said investigators haven't determined if the fire was accidental or arson.

According to a resident two doors down from the gutted apartment, a man and a woman moved into the burned-out apartment a few months ago. The woman is unaccounted for. Investigators would not immediately release more information.

At 8 a.m. Friday, troopers received a 911 call from a woman reporting a fire at the apartment building at 3210 Parks Highway.

When firefighters arrived at the building, flames were already shooting out of the first-story apartment, according to Ester Volunteer Fire Department Chief John Debbaut. He said the fire was confined to the apartment, but two units located directly above sustained smoke damage.

At 8:56 a.m., firefighters told troopers that an unidentified body had been found in the bedroom of the first-story apartment.

The body was sent to the medical examiner's office in Anchorage for identification and to determine a cause of death, Tanner said.

Meanwhile, investigators from the state crime lab in Anchorage, the troopers general investigations unit and the state fire marshal in Fairbanks combed through the burned apartment looking for clues to the origin of the fire, Tanner said.

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