Officials still investigating fatal Nikolaevsk house fire

Investigators have not yet determined the cause of a fire last Thursday that killed a 46-year-old man at a Nikolaevsk home. After putting out the fire, firefighters found the remains of the man in the single-story ranch home. 

Alaska State Troopers identified the victim as Andres “Andy” Afonasiev of Nikolaevsk. Next of kin has been notified.

Afonasiev was the only person in the home, said Megan Peters, a spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers.

Afonasiev’s remains were sent to the Alaska Medical Examiners’ Office for identification on Thursday. 

Forensic experts were able to get fingerprints from Afonasiev’s body and compared those with state records to make a positive identification on Friday, said Greg Wilkinson, a spokesperson for the Alaska Medical Examiner’s Office and the Department of Health and Social Services.

The cause of death also has not yet been determined, Peters said.

Numerous people made 911 calls reporting the fire at about 3:30 a.m. Oct. 3, troopers said in a press release. The fire was at a home on Nikolaevsk Road around the corner from the village church, said Kachemak Emergency Services Chief Bob Cicciarella. 

Seven firefighters and emergency medical technicians from Anchor Point Emergency Services responded, with an engine, tanker, rescue truck and ambulance. Thirteen firefighters and EMTs responded from Kachemak Emergency Services, with two engines, a tanker, a medic unit and a rescue unit. 

Although there is a fire station in Nikolaevsk, the Nikolaevsk firefighter was not available and did not respond, said Scott Walden, Kenai Peninsula Borough Emergency Management Director.

When firefighters and troopers arrived, the roof had collapsed and the home was fully engulfed in flames, Cicciarella said. The home burned completely to the ground. A KES firefighter discovered the body, he said.

Other buildings were close by, but did not have fire damage, Peters said.

A state fire marshal responded from Anchorage to conduct the investigation into the fire. Peters said it is still too early to speculate on the cause of the fire or if arson was involved.

“Any time we have a fatal fire, we investigate it thoroughly,” she said. “The State Medical Examiner comes into play as far as how the person died. The fire marshal’s office does its best to determine cause and origin.”

Peters said troopers assisted in the investigation by interviewing witnesses and neighbors.

Nikolaevsk is the original Russian Old Believer village on the Kenai Peninsula and located off the North Fork Road east of Anchor Point.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at