Police identify victim of June 13 house fire

The State Medical Examiner positively identified Paul Baylink, 46, as the person killed in a Rainbow Court house fire on June 13, Homer Police announced in a press release Tuesday afternoon. An autopsy was done on June 17, but police have not received the report and do not know the cause of death, said Lt. Will Hutt.

Baylink is the owner of the house, and family members had been notified earlier that he might be the fire victim. Baylink was the only person in the house at the time of the fire. No pets were found in the house, either.

Baylink died in the house fire in downtown Homer on the morning of June 13. A neighbor called in the fire about 10:40 a.m. When firefighters arrived, the northeast corner of the home where the fire started was fully engulfed in flames. A neighbor who lives across the street, Joe Brunner, said he went in the front door and called Baylink’s name, but got no response. Smoke 3- to 4-feet thick covered the room, he said.

“I had to go back out,” Brunner said. “I couldn’t breathe.”

The first three responding Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters also attempted to save Baylink and even waived a safety rule requiring two firefighters to be outside when two go inside. Brunner told firefighters the location of Baylink’s bedroom in the northeast corner of the home, and they took a hose line and went in to search. Firefighters knocked the fire down, said HVFD firefighter Dan Miotke, and found Baylink’s body in a hallway outside a bedroom. Miotke said it was obvious Baylink was dead.

Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said it appeared Baylink was trying to escape the fire. Police do not suspect foul play or anything suspicious, he said.

Baylink’s neighbor, Cristy Fry, said of him, “He was always a good, helpful neighbor. We really like him.”

Baylink worked as a mariner and crewed on the Stormbird, the local marine pilot boat. He also was known as a gifted photographer, with photos published in the Homer News.

Paul McNiece Baylink was born Dec. 18, 1967, in Seattle and graduated from Redlands High School, California, in 1986. In Alaska he worked as a mariner. He is survived by his daughter, Emily Baylink, his ex-wife, Carrie Baylink, his sister Katherine Hohmann, and his parents, Colleen and David Baylink. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. July 12, 2014, in Cortner’s Chapel, Redlands.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.