The village of Chefornak woke up to a Wednesday morning fire that killed one person. Officials are investigating the cause.
Alaska State Troopers say that they received a call around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday saying that a house was engulfed in flames and that one person, identified as 72-year-old Jesuit Father Theodore Kestler, died in the fire. Efforts to save him were unsuccessful. Chefornak City Administrator Robert Jimmie said that Kestler lived alone in the house.
Jimmie: Father Ted, I think he was alone.
KYUK: Does he have family in the village?
KYUK: And how long has he been staying there?
Jimmie: Not long maybe… off and on. He was a rotating priest.
Jimmie says that they are currently not seeking donations or help since no one other than Kestler lived in the house. He was known for being kind to everyone in the village.
According to an article by Catholic Anchor, Jesuit Father Kestler was born in Tacoma, Washington along with his twin sister Mary Ann. He entered a Jesuit Novitiate in Sheridan, Oregon in 1964 and was ordained in 1975. Five years later he heard that there was a need for more priests in Alaska, and volunteered with two other priests to move north. In the years leading up to his death he took on various leadership roles in the state.
When contacted Wednesday, Troopers said that a deputy from the Fire Marshal’s office was on their way to investigate the cause of the fire.