- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A southeast Alaska man died in his sleep during a house fire that caused extensive damage to the structure, authorities said.

Yakutat police Chief Robert Baty said he suspects Eric James Anderstrom died from smoke inhalation. His remains are being transported to the state medical examiner’s office in Anchorage for an autopsy.

Members of Yakutat’s volunteer fire department had found Anderstrom on the living room couch inside his sister’s home.

Baty told The Juneau Empire (https://bit.ly/2aVwjLM) that police believe Saturday’s fire was started in the kitchen by a stove Anderstrom had been using before he fell asleep in the living room.

The home’s smoke detectors were “blaring” when officers arrived on scene, “and there was an extreme amount of heat coming from the interior of the residence,” Baty said.

Anderstrom was an employee of the Yakutat Tlingit Tribe. His sister, Gloria Wolfe, had been attending a Tlingit immersion retreat in Juneau when the fire broke out. Many attendees had left the retreat early on Saturday after news of the fire spread.

“Everybody’s still in shock now,” said Yakutat Tlingit Tribe President Victoria Demmert.

The Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has set up a crowdfunding account to help Wolfe’s family recover from the loss. The GoFundMe account had raised almost $10,000 as of Sunday evening.

Baty said the city of Yakutat has had few fires in recent years. He is encouraging homeowners to take extra steps to prevent fires.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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