Forks firefighters find body in charred home
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Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County Fire District No. 1 firefighters assess the burned-out shell of a mobile home in which a body was found early Wednesday.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — The unidentified body of what appeared to be an adult male remained inside a burned-out Palmer Road mobile home Wednesday afternoon while an investigator sifted through the rubble of one of two blazes that struck the West End in the early morning hours.

The 853 Palmer Road fire was called in at 7:27 a.m. Wednesday, Clallam County Fire District No. 1 Chief Phil Arbeiter said.

Authorities could not identify the person found near the bedroom of the structure, he said.

An autopsy likely will be required to identify the remains, said Arbeiter, who did not know if the dead man was the owner of the mobile home.

“The word I got was that whoever lives there or owns it or whatever, his vehicle wasn't there,” he said.

Mike Walter Schulze owns the mobile home at 853 Palmer Road, while the owner of the property is Dolores Smothers, according to the Clallam County Assessor's Office.

Undersheriff Ron Peregrin said the Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the blaze, was unable to get in touch Schulze.

“We tried getting a hold of the Schulze individual, and we haven't been able to contact him,” Peregrin said.

An earlier fire, reported at about 4:05 a.m. Wednesday, caused no injuries, District No. 6 Fire Chief Jeff Baysinger said.

The fire engulfed an unoccupied single-wide manufactured home near 265 Richwine Road between Forks and LaPush.

Arbeiter said that by mid-afternoon Wednesday, Clallam County Sheriff's Sgt. Brian King was sifting through the debris of the Palmer Road fire, located off Calawah Way about a mile east of Forks.

Arbeiter also awaited the arrival of an intervention team from the Clallam Bay Corrections Center to debrief the firefighters who encountered the body.

“We had some young firemen who had never seen something like that before,” Arbeiter said.

“Some people don't handle it well if it's the first time they've ever seen maybe a casualty.”

The mobile home, which included a carport, was valued at $5,600 and the property at $27,500.

Five first-responders fought the Richwine Road blaze, located 4 miles west of 3 Rivers Resort, Baysinger said.

No one was living in the structure, but the electricity was on, Baysinger said.

The department will not be investigating the fire under the “good assumption” that it was probably caused by an electrical malfunction, he added.

“We don't investigate unless we have reason to believe it was arson or something suspicious, but this doesn't seem suspicious by any means,” Baysinger said.

“An investigation is up to the insurance company,” he added.

An earlier report from Peninsula Communications that the blaze was at 250 Richwine Road — which was reported online at www.peninsuladailynews.com — may have been incorrect, Pen Com Communications Manager Steve Romberg said.

The fire was reported by a passer-by who said the fire was just before 265 Richwine Road, Romberg said.

There was no county Assessor's Office record of a residence at 250 Richwine Road.



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 19. 2012 6:00PM
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