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

Gary Muehlberger, star of National Geographic Channel’s Life Below Zero: Port Protection, apparently died when his house burned down. He was 75.

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.”

NatGeo says Gary was ‘a legend’

While authorities have yet to confirm that it was Muehlberger who died, the community of Port Protection is mourning 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.

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  • 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. Learn more about Andy.

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