'Yellowknife loves the Debogorskis': Man with ALS dies after fatal house fire

RCMP, the N.W.T.'s fire marshal and the coroner is investigating after a man with ALS died following a house fire in downtown Yellowknife.

Andrew Debogorski, a well-known local man who was diagnosed with ALS last year, is dead

Fire at 5612 51a Ave in Yellowknife at approximately 9 p.m. Friday evening. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Yellowknife RCMP, the N.W.T.'s fire marshal and the coroner service are investigating what they call a "fatal fire," after a man with ALS died following a house fire Friday night.

Fire fighters, ambulances and municipal enforcement responded to a house fire at 5612 51A Avenue near J. H. Sissons school in Yellowknife, just after 8 p.m., according to a RCMP news release sent Saturday afternoon.

Police said a 32-year-old man was found in the home, and was taken to Stanton Territorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A resident of the house, Andrew Debogorski, is believed to be dead.

His father, Alex Debogorski, was on the History Channel's show, Ice Road Truckers. On his official Facebook page, a post states, "I'm asking all of my friends and fans for a prayer. My son Andrew who has ALS has passed away when his house caught fire. His wife and two children are safe."

Police confirmed in the news release a 28-year-old woman and two children were able to get out of the home.

It was classic Yellowknife. It was everybody and their dog rooting through their basements ... to find a way to help this family.- Nancy MacNeill, family friend

Witness and CBC employee Matthew Martin said he saw fire fighters bring a man out of the building on a stretcher. As well, he heard an explosion come from inside the building.

There were at least three fire trucks and multiple Municipal Enforcement vehicles on scene.

A house in Yellowknife caught fire Friday night around 9 p.m. (Sidney Cohen/CBC)

Yellowknifers' support 'not a surprise'

Andrew Debogorski was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that in most cases has a life expectancy of between two and five years. 

CBC North interviewed Andrew Debogorski in July 2017 after he received his diagnosis. He spoke about the support of family, friends and his community that helped him maintain a positive attitude. 

Andrew Debogorski, from Yellowknife, was diagnosed with ALS in 2017. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

"You have heard the age-old adage, what's the point of living a long miserable life?" he said. "I might be gone five years from now, and that's a possibility, so why would I be sad?"

A long-time family friend Nancy MacNeill is collecting donations the family needs immediately — baby supplies like diapers and wipes, women's and baby clothes, as well as school supplies for one of the children. 

MacNeill posted the call for donations on Facebook early afternoon Saturday. She said within 20 minutes, someone was knocking on her door with a bag of toys.

"It was classic Yellowknife. It was everybody and their dog rooting through their basements... to find a way to help this family," MacNeill told CBC.

MacNeill said she's not receiving furniture and appliance donations, until the family figures out their living situation.

"Yellowknife loves the Debogorskis, and Yellowknife loves helping," said MacNeill, who said the community is eager to support the family. 

"Honestly, it's always really touching when Yellowknife comes through. It's not a surprise." 

With files from Priscilla Hwang