The state Medical Examiner’s Office has positively identified a body from last week’s house fire as that of the resident, 49-year-old Ralph Smith of Ketchikan.
According to Alaska State Troopers Spokeswoman Megan Peters, the manner of death has been determined to be suicide. She wouldn’t elaborate on the exact cause of death, because the case remains under investigation.
Peters writes in an email that the fire at the Blackberry Lane home was intentionally set. State Fire Marshals have not yet determined the exact origin.
The fire was reported at about 6 p.m. on Nov. 12th. Witnesses told officials that Smith came out of the house, told a family member that the home was on fire, drove down the rough, gravel road and parked his truck across the road. Smith then shot a gun into the air a couple of times, but didn’t seem to be shooting at anyone.
Witnesses didn’t see what Smith did after that, but officials early on suspected that he went back into the burning home. They found the body in the ashes the next day.