One killed in Hoquiam fire

Neighbors helped fight the fire, but for naught

A Hoquiam resident died in a fire early Tuesday morning after a fire tore through his trailer in the Hoquiam River RV Park.

Garrett Edward Mitchell, 38, was killed by the fire, said county Coroner George Kelley, and the next of kin has been notified.

The first calls came in just after 6 a.m., said detective Sgt. Jerad Spaur of the Hoquiam Police Department, who investigated the fire.

“The neighbor saw it. He called it in,” Spaur said in an interview. “His dogs woke him up.”

Patrol officers arrived on scene, followed shortly by the Hoquiam Fire Department, Spaur said. Neighbors alerted the patrol officers that the trailer was occupied, but the fire was too fierce to get close, Spaur said.

“They could see someone was in there but he was unresponsive,” Spaur said.

Firefighters arriving for the call rapidly knocked the fire down, said Fire Chief Matt Miller, as neighboring residents attempted to help fight the fire themselves.

“It was a pretty quick attack. With the neighbors throwing the buckets of water through the window, it really limited the fire damage,” Miller said. “We recommend the residents maintain their own safety, but we do appreciate how much the effort slowed the growth.”

The fire appears tragic but not suspicious, Spaur said.

“There was no sign of foul play,” Spaur said. “It appears to be a tragic accident.”

Spaur praised the professionalism of the Hoquiam Fire Department as he worked to reconstruct events around the fire.

“Hoquiam Fire has some really solid experienced guys. It’s always good to work with them,” Spaur said. “Any unattended deaths are suspicious in nature. It’s our job to rule out suspicious activity or foul play. It didn’t appear to be suspicious at all.”

The fatal fire is the first for Hoquiam in 2024, Miller said, and the second to occur within about a year in the same RV park. The previous fire, which claimed the life of an elderly resident, occurred in January of 2023, The Daily World previously reported.

“Just about a year ago, we had one three spaces away,” Miller said. ‘We don’t see (fatal fires) very often. It’s pretty rare.”

Space heaters and extension cords can lead to fires if used improperly, Miller said, and early detection of fires is always a good thing.

“Even with motor homes and RVs, please have working smoke detectors,” Miller said.

Contact Senior Reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or