Victim of deadly December trailer fire identified as JBER airman

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 1:36 PM AKST
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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - Officials have identified the remains of a man found dead in a fifth wheel trailer in Wasilla in December as belonging to an airman from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

A JBER press release says Tech Sgt. Steven Wesley Huffines, 39, died in the fire that burned the trailer on Church Road in Wasilla, near Carlsbad Place, and an adjacent home that was nearby. Fire crews from the Central Mat-Su and West Lakes departments responded to the blaze on Dec. 15, 2021, after an officer with the Alaska State Troopers noticed smoke rising while on patrol.

The trooper helped the residents of the house to safety while crews extinguished the flames, but later discovered human remains in the area of the fifth wheel trailer.

Huffines is a Texas native and has been stationed at JBER since July 2017 after initially joining the Air Force in May 2004, according to the press release.

Troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel said the fire originated from a 55-gallon drum that had been retrofitted as a wood stove for a heat source, and that the stove was being used inside the trailer at the time of the fire. McDaniel also cautioned others about using such stoves inside structures to prevent a similar disaster.

“Similar homemade drum-style wood stoves are found throughout Alaska, however they should only be used outside and are not safe for use inside of a home, cabin, or trailer,” McDaniel wrote in an email to Alaska’s News Source.

The fire is still being investigated by the Alaska state fire marshal while the cause of death is being handled by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

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