Nunam Iqua man charged with fatal house fire

Derek Adams, 19, is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday on murder and other charges in connection with a fire that claimed the lives of three people last month in the western Alaska village of Nunam Iqua.

Alaska State Troopers say a Bethel grand jury returned with a seventeen count indictment against Adams that included six counts of second degree murder, one count of first degree arson, and ten counts of third degree assault. Adams is currently being held at Yukon-Kuskokwim Correctional Center on a petition to revoke his probation. Bail has been set at $500,000.

The murder charges are for the deaths of Joseph Ignatius, 43, Edward Murphy, 25, and Cyprian Ignatius, 8, whose bodies were found in the home which burned on June 28.

Bethel District Attorney June Stein says twice the murder counts were filed to cover two theories: extreme indifference and felony murder.

The assault charges are for the other ten residents of the home who were able to escape the early morning fire. Two of the victims were medically evacuated to Bethel and then sent on to Anchorage for treatment of smoke inhalation and minor burns.

Villagers tried to use buckets and hoses to fight the fire which appeared to start near the entrance of the home. Troopers say the villagers managed to extinguish the flames, but not before most of the house was already consumed by the blaze.

Troopers say the indictment was the result of an extensive investigation that included the participation of the State Fire Marshall’s office. They do not specify whether Adams was resident of the house, but they say that fourteen people were at the house when the fire broke out.