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Woman Dies in Western Alaska House Fire

Published On: May 16 2014 01:41:39 PM AKDT

A woman died in a fire in Levelock, a community on the banks of the Kvichak River in Western Alaska.

Alaska State Troopers in Dillingham responded to reports of a house fire that occurred early Wednesday morning.

Charles Andrew, 70 of Levelock, had fallen asleep around 10 p.m., while Katherine Achayok, 59 of Pilot Point, stayed awake watching television.

The two were smoking cigarettes on an exterior porch, where a can used for cigarette butts was kept. While the cause of the fire is under investigation, troopers said it appears accidental in nature and that the fire appears to have originated near the porch.

When the blaze sparked, Andrew was able to escape but went and tried to help Achayok get out. The effort was unsuccessful, Andrew suffered burns and Achayok died.

The house was a total loss.

Troopers from King Salmon and an Anchorage-based deputy fire marshal arrived later in the afternoon to investigate. Foul play is not suspected, but Achayok's remains will be sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification and an autopsy.