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2 dead in separate Mat-Su fires; 2 seriously injured in Anchorage residential fire

Feb. 1—Two people died in separate Mat-Su fires this week and two people were seriously injured in a fire at a multifamily residence early Thursday in Anchorage that displaced several others, officials said.

The fires come as Southcentral Alaska plunged into dangerously low temperatures, dropping to 33 degrees below zero in some parts of Anchorage on Thursday. The deep cold snap strained gas supplies throughout the region, led to significant power outages and burst sewer pipes.

On Tuesday, neighbors reported a fire in a tow-behind trailer that was being used as a home near Meadow Lakes, said troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain. Local fire departments responded to the area, along with troopers and deputy fire marshals, he said.

Firefighters found a person dead inside the trailer, troopers said. No one else was inside it when the fire began, DeSpain said.

The investigation into the cause of the fire was ongoing Thursday, troopers said. The body was sent to the State Medical Examiner Office to determine the cause and manner of death, troopers said.

In Sutton, a man was found dead early Wednesday after he'd escaped a fire that started late Tuesday at his home, troopers said. A portable propane heater likely sparked a fire on nearby bedding, a spokesman for the troopers said. The man, whose body was found about 100 feet from the house, may have died from exposure, troopers said.

In Anchorage, firefighters were called Thursday to the 3600 block of Young Street, near East 36th Avenue and Lake Otis Parkway, around 1:45 a.m. and rescued two victims from the multifamily residence, the fire department said. They were taken to the hospital with severe injuries, according to the department.

Five other people were inside the building when the fire began but made it out safely, said Lexi Quass'uq Trainer, a spokeswoman for the department. They were displaced from their homes and referred to the Red Cross, the fire department said.

An investigation was ongoing Thursday to determine what caused the fire.

Fire alarms could be heard going off in at least one of the units when firefighters arrived, Trainer said.

The Anchorage Fire Department advised people to make sure their homes have working fire alarms and also said residents should have an evacuation plan, a set meeting place and an emergency kit with essential items.

"Working fire alarms are the first line of defense in the event of a fire," the department said.

Twenty-one people died in Alaska last year during fires and at least nine have died so far this year, including a woman and five children who died in a Noorvik house fire last week and a man who died, also last week, after setting fire to a mattress inside a Kasigluk jail cell.