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Man, 71, Dies in Early Morning House Fire

City of Fairbanks

A 71-year-old Fairbanks man died early Tuesday morning, apparently from injuries he sustained during a fire that heavily damaged his home.

Fairbanks firefighters were dispatched to an area off Minnie Street after they got a report of a possible fire around 4:40 a.m. They called for backup when they arrived at a house on the 300 block and saw smoke coming out of the attic.

When they entered the burning structure, firefighters found a man who was unresponsive and later identified as Lee Charles Farstad. They brought Farstad outside and administered CPR and other treatment, then took him to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A city news release says firefighters from three agencies extinguished the blaze in about 45 minutes. And it says the house’s interior was heavily damaged by smoke and fire.

City spokeswoman Teal Soden says fire investigators examining the scene discovered the home didn’t have any functioning smoke alarms. “And so, it is very likely that that very much contributed to his death,” she said.

Soden said Tuesday afternoon that emergency service personnel hopes the fatal fire will serve as a reminder of the need to check fire and smoke alarms and replace their batteries on a regular basis.

“The fire department suggests that people check their smoke alarms regularly,” she said. “But, folks should also get into the habit of changing their smoke-detector batteries on Daylight Savings Time, twice a year. It’s just a good habit to get into.”

Personnel and equipment from the Fort Wainwright and University fire departments also responded, as did Fairbanks police.  

Soden says Fairbanks Deputy Fire Marshal Moira Townsend is looking into the cause of the blaze, with help from a University Fire investigator and city police. Townsend asks anyone who has information on the fire to call her at 450-6614.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.