Who Was Gary Muehlberger and What Led To His Death?

Gary Muehlberger was an Alaskan fisherman and a cast member of the Nat Geo Channel reality series, Port Protection. He died in a fire outbreak in his home.

Gary was among the most significant cast members on Port Protection and was considered to be a legend among his community members. His stellar fishing and trapping skills set him apart from the crowd and within a short while of appearing on the show, he became a fan favorite. Thus, his passing was a great loss to the cast, crew, and fans of the reality show, and they came all out to mourn him.

Summary of Gary Muehlberger’s Biography

  • Full Name: Gary Muehlberger
  • Gender: Male
  • Date of death: 17th March 2021
  • Nationality: American
  • Gary Muehlberger’s Height in Inches: 5 feet 6 inches
  • Gary Muehlberger’s Height in Centimetres: 161 cm
  • Gary Muehlberger’s Weight: 55kg
  • Famous For: Being a reality TV star

When was Gary Muehlberger Born?

There is no listed date of birth for Gary Muehlberger, however, after he died in 2021, it was reported that he was 75. This led to the assumption that he might have been born between 1945 and 1946.

Throughout his existence, Gary lived a reclusive life and only had his dear dog Trapper for company, thus, very little is known about his early life and family background. The names of his parents are not known and he never mentioned any siblings.

Gary is listed as a citizen of America, having lived in Alaska for the last 49 years of his life. Where he was born, grew up, and went to school is not known.

Also, his academic records and the level he reached in education have never been disclosed.

He Became Famous as a Reality TV Personality

Gary Muehlberger
Gary and his fishing boat image source

As earlier mentioned, Gary Muehlberger only gained popularity for his appearance on the National Geographic channel reality television show entitled Port Protection Alaska when he joined in 2015. The show came from the producers of Life Below Zero and both had a lot in common. Whatever he did to earn a living before that time is not known, though he was an excellent fisherman.

The motive behind the reality show was to reveal how the inhabitants of a tiny town in Alaska survive from day to day. Gary joined the first season of the show alongside other veterans like David Squibb, Dan Nachtrab, Mary Miller, Matt Carlson, and Sam Carlon.

Muehlberger was already in his early 70s when he became part of the show and his wealth of knowledge about things like fishing was what made him stand out from the other cast members.

When the camera beams on Gary Muehlberger in the rainforest of Alaska, the septuagenarian is seen venturing out in his vintage fishing boat alongside his ever-present pet dog, Trapper. Gary’s boat was said to have survived for a century and still very strong. Together, the master and dog would navigate a major part of the river in search of fish.

As the cast members tried to survive in freezing cold temperatures, living their lives off the grid, they were expected to provide their basic needs like building their own shelter, hunting for their daily food, and trying to make themselves as comfortable as possible. Needless to say, it takes extreme survival techniques to accomplish this and Gary seemed to have a truckload of self-subsistence skills.

Despite his age, Gary managed to survive five seasons on the show from its inception in 2015 to 2020. He didn’t just survive the ordeals in zero temperature, he also became a fan favorite. It is believed that he would have joined the sixth season in 2021 if the fire that claimed his life didn’t occur.

How Did Gary Muehlberger Die?

Gary Muehlberger died in a fire that broke out in his house in Alaska.

Having watched Gary on the Nat Geo reality show undergo untold hardship in the worst of remote locations, fans and viewers naturally saw him as a superhuman as it is really hard to imagine a normal man surviving under such harsh environments. This is the reason his death in a house fire has done nothing but puzzle everyone who knew about his extraordinary survival instincts in sub-zero temperatures.

However, it became a reality that a man renowned for survival succumbed to a house fire. The confirmation about Gary’s demise came from The State Medical Examiner on the 25th of March 2021 that he died earlier in the month when his abode was engulfed with fire. His remains were recovered from the debris that same day.

Before then, on the 17th of March 2021 by 11:30 a.m., the Alaskan fisherman’s home was reported to be on fire. The incident occurred on a Wednesday and the remote location of Gary Muehlberger’s town made it too difficult for the fire service to get access to his house on time. Besides, that particular day was besieged by rough weather that delayed both the fire department and the investigation crew.

When inquiries were made about Gary, no one agreed to have seen him anywhere and it was concluded that he was in residence when the fire was raging. In addition, his nearest neighbors confirmed that they saw a human form in the ashes which was later confirmed to be Gary.

The crew that went for the investigation declared it an accidental occurrence as they didn’t find any traces of foul play. It was later concluded that the septuagenarian was making an attempt to fix his propane hot water tank which must have exploded and started the fire outbreak.

Though Muehlberger’s home was equipped with a fire extinguisher, the magnitude of the fire wasn’t the type that could be helped with the equipment. From what is obvious, the Alaskan fisherman managed to survive the extreme cold in his town, only to lose his life from a house fire.

Gary Muehlberger’s Death Left his Community in a Sombre Mood

Gary Muehlberger was considered to be a great community member, thus, his obituary was very touching. The cast, the crew, and the fans of Port Protection came all out to mourn him.

The production team of the reality TV show took to their Facebook page to share a condolence message in commemoration of his passing. The post wasted no time in attracting over 2000 comments from fans and viewers who responded with their individual condolence messages.

Though Gary is no more, he will be forever remembered for his exploits on the set of the show. In their obituary message, the production crew of the Life Below Zero franchise described the veteran as a man with an incredibly big heart and one who would be deeply missed.

What Happened to Gary’s Dog Trapper

Gary Muehlberger
Trapper image source

One thing that has continued to fascinate fans is the fact that Trapper was able to escape from the fire when his master couldn’t despite the fact that he never left his side.

The Alaskan authorities looked after the dog following the incident, but it reportedly died after a few months.

Chidiebube has been writing and editing articles on movies, entertainment and other juicy things for several years. When he is not writing, he spends time outdoors, lost in the beauty of nature or simply travelling around the world. Thank goodness he can do the later with any internet-enabled device


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