The victim who was found after an act of arson caused a fire to a vacant house at 215 N. H St., has been identified, according to Bob Kegel, coroner for Grays Harbor County.
Aaron J. Buchanan, 31, of Aberdeen, was located inside the former two-story vacant house, which was set on fire a little after 5 a.m., on April 23. An autopsy is pending.
“An autopsy will be performed by the King County medical examiner to determine cause and manner of death,” Kegel wrote to The Daily World.
Authorities have determined an act of arson caused the fire, according to an Aberdeen Police Department (APD) statement. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) was brought in to help with the investigation. About two days after the fire, APD, Aberdeen Code Enforcement, and ATF agents served a search warrant for the residence, wherein they found Buchanan.
“After assessing the structure to ensure it was safe to enter, a victim was located and removed from inside the residence,” the APD statement read.
Aberdeen and Hoquiam Firefighters responded to the fire at 5:27 a.m. on April 23.
The fire to the residence could be seen several feet above the peak of the home, which was officially vacant, according to Aberdeen police Lt. Steve Timmons in an APD statement.
One of the residents in the area, Christopher Woodland, said the fire was “just ripping.”
“It was just totally engulfed,” he said.
The fire included a large volume of smoke and flames that extended from the back of the building to the front of the building. The fire reached several feet above the residence with the doors and windows boarded up with plywood.
The severity of the fire pushed police to evacuate nearby residents.
“Officers began knocking on nearby residences to evacuate occupants for their safety due to the concern of the fire possibly spreading to other structures,” Timmons said.
As of the morning of April 26, yellow police tape lined the vicinity of the structure, which was still standing. At that point, the city had the vicinity of the property closed off to passersby.
Then, that afternoon, the structure — which had a couple of standing walls a few hours earlier — was razed.
Since the fire, APD has arrested a 34-year old Aberdeen man, who is a person of interest, on unrelated charges, according to the APD statement.
While police have determined arson was what started the fire, the exact cause and where it started are not known.
Woodland was thoroughly impressed by the work done by the firefighters, police, and the city workers, who assisted with the fire. He said they stayed outside the residence throughout the weekend.
“I care about how hard those guys worked, and how they all worked together,” he said. “From police and fire, they all had their jobs. It was amazing to see.”