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Kasigluk man dead after local jail fire

Village of Kasigluk
Gabby Salgado
Village of Kasigluk

A man in Kasigluk has died following a fire in the village’s jail on Tuesday, Jan. 23, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Trooper spokesperson Timothy DeSpain said that at around 3:20 a.m. on Jan. 23, the agency got a call about a structure fire and a deceased individual in the village of Kasigluk.

DeSpain said that the deceased is 36-year-old Kyle V. White of Kasigluk.

“Troopers contacted the tribal police in Kasigluk, and they stated that Kyle White had been placed into a holding cell at the Kasigluk tribal jail due to intoxication. And while he was in the holding cell, a fire started inside the cell. Once the fire was contained, Kyle was located deceased inside,” DeSpain said.

DeSpain also said that Kasigluk Tribal Police told troopers that White had been belligerent, caused a disturbance, and bit one of the tribal police officers’ fingers before being brought in and placed in a holding cell for a 12-hour sleep-off.

But DeSpain said that the tribal police officers (TPOs) did not properly search White.

“It was reported to troopers during the course of the investigation that a lighter was discovered inside the cell. That was determined to be what had started the fire with a mattress, so he was able to get that lighter into the cell...Without a proper search,” said DeSpain.

DeSpain said that that although adults over 21 can drink alcohol in the state of Alaska, local law in Kasigluk makes it illegal to possess or consume alcohol in the village.

After the initial call about the fire and the deceased person, DeSpain said that state troopers and a deputy fire marshal responded to Kasigluk.

“Kasigluk TPOs basically were completely handling the sleep-off responsibilities, and that troopers and fire marshals weren't brought in until there was a need for the investigation of the fire,” DeSpain said.

DeSpain said that White did have prior criminal history, but could not comment about White’s mental health history.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.