Skip to Content

Life Below Zero: Port Protection’s Gary Muehlberger died in a house fire

Life Below Zero: Port Protection’s Gary Muehlberger died in a house fire
Gary Muehlberger on Life Below Zero: Port Protection (Image via National Geographic Channel)

Gary Muehlberger, star of National Geographic Channel’s Life Below Zero: Port Protection, apparently died when his house burned down.

Gary was 75, and one of the original Port Protection cast members.

A March 17 fire destroyed Gary’s house in Port Protection on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska, which was regularly featured in the show. (The clip below is a scene in which Gary fixed plumbing by crawling underneath his house.)

Gary Muelberger on his snow-covered skiff on Life Below Zero: Port Protection
Gary Muelberger on his snow-covered skiff on Life Below Zero: Port Protection (Photo by BBC Worldwide Limited)

While Gary is missing and a body was found inside the house, Alaska’s KTOO reported “that rough weather [Friday] has delayed their investigation.”

KTOO reported that yesterday, Tuesday, “Alaska State Troopers have sent human remains found in the burned-out home of Port Protection resident Gary Muehlberger to the state medical examiner’s office for identification.”

KTUU, which published a photo of an Alaska State Trooper putting out the fire, reported that it has been ruled as accidental.”

Update: Alaska State Troopers announced that Alaska’s “State Medical Examiner has positively identified the human remains as 75-year-old Port Protection resident Gary Muehlberger.”

Port Protection cast member Gary was ‘a legend’

Even before authorities confirmed that it was Muehlberger who died, the community of Port Protection mourned him, and Life Below Zero’s Facebook page posted this condolence:

“We’re extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Gary Muehlberger, a legend to the Port Protection Alaskan community and the Life Below Zero franchise. He had an incredibly big heart, epitomized so much of the human spirit and welcomed the world into his life with open arms. He will be deeply missed.”

A re-posted Facebook message said:

“Gary Muehlberger; the Man, the Myth, the Legend has passed away.There was a fire at his home and he did not make it. Trapper is alive and well and being cared for. That is all the information there is.”

The logo from the early seasons of the renamed NatGeo reality show Life Below Zero: Port Protection
The logo from the early seasons of the renamed NatGeo reality show Life Below Zero: Port Protection.

Port Protection premiered in 2015, and while several cast members have left, Gary was a central cast member since season one; you can read Gary’s bio here.

The show aired three seasons, and then after a two-year break, returned last year, rebranded as Life Below Zero: Port Protection. Its fifth season is currently airing on National Geographic Channel.

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

Comment rules: My goal is for us to be able to share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space. That’s why I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to them.

Happy discussing!

Rima Haddad

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Gary lived the way he wants !to live free and in the beautiful nature he loves , I loved watching every episode he was in , so unfortunate this fire !! Glad that trapper made it ! God bless his soul , he surly was loved


Thursday 5th of May 2022

I still MISS and love Gary he is on the show today I wish he never die.

Arnie Hauger

Thursday 21st of April 2022

I watch Port Protection all the time.Years ago I was at King Salmon Alaska for 1 year with the Air Force.68-69. I just now found out that Gary had past watching the series..I am shocked.Such a warrior and icon for the community of Port Protection. He was full of wisdom.Rest in Peace.


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Love all of them and wish them all the best in weather, friends and sustenance.


Tuesday 29th of March 2022

I love the show, but with Gary I could always picture myself hanging out with him after a hard days work having a beer or five and just swappin stories. He cared about others, and he lived his life his way, that was obvious. Gary will be missed by his Port Protection family, and his public viewer family, I will certainly miss him and his stories, his Alaskan wisdom, and his life by the day attitude. I'm certainly glad Trapper made it and will hopefully will be adopted by the PP family.

Raisin a pint to ya Gary, you led a life well lived, cheers!