Police identify victim in fatal Chugiak blaze

Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers have identified musher Barry MacAlpine as the man who died in an early morning house fire in Chugiak.

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The fire was reported at about 1 a.m. Sunday in the neighborhood west of the Glenn Highway. Chugiak volunteer firefighters found the building engulfed in flames.

The state fire marshal's office is investigating the blaze, but troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said the fire "is not suspicious."

Neighbor Ethan Petticrew said he saw the fire.

"Everybody was coming out of their houses and running," he said. "The flames were nearly as tall as the trees. The whole house was engulfed in flames. I immediately ran over there looking for Barry."

Neighbors said MacAlpine had lived in the 12-by-12-foot shack for years. The building had no running water or electricity. MacAlpine's priority was his sled dogs, neighbors said, and authorities found more than 35 dogs on the property.

Alaska State Troopers said MacAlpine's age was not immediately available.

Firefighters were able to unleash some of the dogs, Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Tom Reinbolt said.

"Firefighting crews were able to free some of the dogs from their kennels so that they could run free from the fire," Reinbolt said.

After putting out the fire, they discovered human remains inside and called in Alaska State Troopers.

Anchorage Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Maria Martin said the agency could not take in all the dogs.

"I'm hoping that people in the mushing community or people who have experience with sled dogs will step up, give us a call if they want to take five, three, 10 - it doesn't matter, any little bit will help," Martin said.

Animal control officers arranged to take food to the dogs. The agency took four puppies to its shelter.

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