Fire, explosion devastate home in Hoquiam


A man barely made it out of a house in Hoquiam alive after it burst into flames and then exploded on Tuesday.

One woman who lives diagonally across a street behind the house on the 600 block of Kuhn Ave. said that 23-year-old man who lived in the home came running across the street just before 9 a.m. screaming with one of his hands badly burned. “He was pounding on the door, and he started yelling for help,” said Melissa Huett.

Huett said he was yelling about his house being on fire and asked her to call 911. “I looked out in enough time to see flames shooting out of the window,” she said.

Another neighbor, who lives in front of the house, said she saw the explosion, too.

“I was standing, looking out the window and the window (across the street) exploded out with flames coming out almost as far as the fence,” Debbie Lytle said. The fence is more than 10 feet away from the front of the house. The explosion shattered windows at the front of the house, and all but destroyed the front door of the structure. Lytle ran across the street looking for the man and any one else who might be in the house. “It was really scary because I figured if there was anyone in there, they wouldn’t get out alive,” she said.

As Lytle ran around the house, she spotted the man.

He was transported from the scene to Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Firefighters confirmed that he suffered burns to his right hand and forearm.

When firefighters arrived at the scene the front of the home was fully involved, fire department officials said. Eleven men from the Hoquiam department, aided by a pair of firefighters from Aberdeen and one firefighter from a county unit put out the fire in about an hour. Firefighters continued looking for hot spots for a few more hours. The fire was difficult to extinguish because the walls in the second story of the structure were made of solid wood covered with sheet rock, a firefighter at the scene said.

The explosion remains a mystery. The property had no gas lines running to the house, but the home had at least one propane tank inside, officials said. The fire is still being investigated.