SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Medical Examiner Provides Positive Identification of Victim of Tragic Fire in Ketchikan



March 26, 2015
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - According to a report received from the Alaska State Medical Examiner’s Office, the remains of the victim of Monday's early morning fire in the 2100 block of 1st Avenue have been positively identified as those of George Mather Jr. of Ketchikan. The name of the deceased was officially released today by Abner Hoage, Chief of the Ketchikan Fire Department. Before the victim's name could be released, Mather's body was sent to the Alaska State Medical Examiner for positive identification.

Chief Hoage said Mather died of smoke inhalation as was evidenced by high levels of Carbon Monoxide in his blood according the the Medical Examiner's Office.

Mather's home was already engulfed in heavy smoke Monday morning when the firefighters arrived on scene. Firefighters immediately engaged the fire and began a search of the residence. Chief Hoage said the body of Mather was discovered in the home by the responders.

jpg Victim of Tragic Early Morning Fire in Ketchikan Officially Identified

Ketchikan Fire Department Responders: Monday AM - March 23, 2015
Photograph by WESTON DAVIS ©2015

Investigators from the Ketchikan Fire and Police Department Fire Investigation Task Force determined the cause of the fire to be electrical in nature. It is believed that the fire may have smoldered for a significant period of time, creating a substantial amount of toxic smoke prior to being discovered, according to information provided by Hoague on Tuesday.

An inoperable smoke detector was found inside the home said Hoague. He reminds the public that smoke detectors provide an early warning to fires within a building. The Chief said it is imperative that smoke detectors be tested regularly and have fresh batteries installed at least once a year.

Acccording the website Early Totem Carvers of New Metlakatla, George Mather Jr was the grandson of Rev. Paul Mather, the first Native deacon in 1927 and priest in 1932 from Southeast Alaska. Two of Paul Mather's sons were carvers: Conrad Mather and George Mather Sr.

Information provided on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website states, “three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” If there is a fire in your home having a smoke alarm gives you the warning necessary to safely escape.

The Ketchikan Fire Department and NFPA recommend that you:

  •  Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of your home.

  • Test your smoke alarms every month.

  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years

  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.


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