One Dead, One Injured in Koyuk House Fire

Winter in Koyuk. Photo: KNOM file.
Winter in Koyuk. Photo: KNOM file.

A Sunday house fire in Koyuk has claimed the life of one woman and seriously injured one other person.

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Alaska State Troopers received the call around 2 p.m. Sunday. Trooper spokesperson Beth Ipsen said in an email that “the call was a fire and that a person was found dead.”

The fire was extinguished by the time Troopers arrived on the scene, but not before the smoke and flames took the life of 82-year-old elder Ethel Adams. Another man in the home, 41-year-old Dale Adams, was seriously burned in the fire.

Dale’s sister Beda Prentice said people ice fishing nearby heard an explosion before seeing the thick black smoke.

“They heard a couple big pop noises, big noises from our home, and we’re assuming the kerosene heater blew up,” she said.

Beda thinks her brother Dale was burned trying to turn the heater off—and save the woman who raised them both as her own children—from the growing flames. “I know my brother was trying turn it out,” she said the heater, “because he has burns on his hands and arms and around his face.”

Beda said her brother was medevaced to Anchorage Sunday night. He got out of surgery Monday afternoon. He remains in the intensive care unit at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

One other person was in the home during the fire—a young boy—and Troopers say he escaped the flames unharmed and is now staying with relatives in Koyuk.

Family members have been notified of the blaze and are in Anchorage with Dale Adams; the remains of Ethel Adams will be sent to the state medical examiner to determine the exact cause of death.

The source of the fire is still under investigation, Troopers say. A deputy fire marshal traveled to Koyuk Monday to determine the cause of the fire.

The family of Ethel Adams is collecting donations to assist both in the burial of Ethel and the road to recovery for Dale.

Monetary donations to the family can be made at Credit Union 1 account 657799, type S76. When prompted, enter the letters PRE, the first three letters in the name of account holder Beda Prentice.

Airline miles can be donated to Alaska Airlines mileage account number 48355086 under the name of Beda Prentice.

Questions for other donations for the family can be addressed to Beda Patience at 907.963.2214.

The house fire comes just one week after the Koyuk Covenant Church suffered a fire of its own—when flames from the building’s wood stove caused smoke damage throughout the sanctuary and burned a hole in the floor beneath the stove.

No one was injured during the Dec. 21 church fire, but the blaze left the building unusable until funds could be raised for more extensive repairs.