Anchorage Fire Department
Died: February 6, 1976
Charles W. “Chuck” Whitethorn was born in South Dakota in 1952; he moved to Anchorage in 1972 and began work with the Greater Anchorage Area Borough Fire Department after his discharge from his firefighting position with Elmendorf Air Force Base Fire Department
On February 6, 1976, just past mid-night, a fire was reported at the Bi-Lo Supermarket on Muldoon Road. Anchorage Fire Department Engine 6 was the first to respond. The fire was immediately declared at 3rd Alarm fire and mutual aid units from Ft. Richardson Army Base, Elmendorf Air Force Base assisted. Fire apparatus responding to the Bi-Lo Supermarket fire included six engines, one squad, one aerial ladder truck, one elevating platform, one rescue vehicle and one ambulance. It took the 41 firefighters and 5 chief officers two hours and twenty-two minutes to bring the fire under control.
Firefighter Whitethorn was a member of Engine 6 which was the first due engine on the location. Upon arriving on the scene he was manning a 1 ½ inch hose line that went through the front door of the supermarket, attempting to bring the fire under control when a violent flashover occurred.
Firefighter Whitethorn was struck in the chest by an unknown object during the violent flashover, and there in the raging fire gave his life while protecting his community.
Charles was only 23 years old but died doing what he wanted to do: fighting fire. He is an example of the quiet valor of dedicated men and women who spend long days waiting for that call which may require them to give their utmost; even their lives. They are too seldom appreciated.
Among his survivors at the time of his death was his widow, Debbie Whitethron, his bride of six weeks, his parents, Charles and Lavonne Whitethorn of Madison, South Dakota, a sister, Patricia Andrews and two brothers, John and Hal.