Proximity, timing of weekend fires prompt Hoquiam Police, Fire investigation

Two fires at the same time in the same block raise suspicion, third fire under investigation

When the Hoquiam Fire Department was alerted to a structure fire on Karr Avenue in the early morning hours Sunday they soon found themselves fighting two blazes just a block apart. Because the fires were so close to one another and appear to have started within such a short time of each other, Hoquiam’s police and fire departments have opened a joint investigation.

“We were dispatched at (3:24 a.m. Sunday) to 502 Karr Avenue and arrived on scene to find the structure fully involved with smoke and flames venting from the house,” said Hoquiam Fire Captain John Bickar. The house “appeared to be vacant and boarded up” and had no power or utilities. It soon came to light the same house had suffered a fire in the garage area about a year before, according to Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers.

Fire crews did a “defensive attack” on the fire, “since it was vacant and there was no probable cause to believe anyone was inside,” said Bickar. “Then one of our crew on the fire line did a transitional attack through a window and got good knockdown (on the fire), so we changed to an offensive attack and entered the home.”

As crews were gaining the upper hand a police officer reported a house at 459 Emerson Ave. was on fire.“So we vacated the house on Karr and went to the Emerson house, gained entry and extinguished that fire,” said Bickar.

A crew from the Aberdeen Fire Department mopped up the initial Karr residence fire and “conducted primary and secondary searches, and saw that scene to the end.” The home on Karr was considered a total loss; the second home escaped with relatively minor damage. Both homes were vacant, but the Emerson Avenue home was on the market and, according to Myers, apparently had an offer pending.

When the fires were extinguished investigators were called in to examine the scenes.

“Search warrants were obtained to investigate the fires at both houses as the locations, times and proximity were considered suspicious,” said Myers. “At this time we are looking at the fires as suspicious, but officially we have nothing yet to tie them together,” said Bickar. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Hoquiam police are still investigating an undetermined fire at a house in the 2000 block of Simpson Avenue from Oct. 3, said Myers. In that case, the residence was also unoccupied and had no power or utility services. Investigators are currently working on the origin and cause of the fires. Myers encourages anyone with information about any of these three fires to contact Detective Grossi at (360) 532-0892 ext. 295 or You can ask to remain anonymous.