Shirley Fitzpatrick puts a cool towel on the head of her husband, Steve, after he tried to save his friend from a fire at a Marysville mobile home park Wednesday. Ted Shockley, 88, died in the fire. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

Shirley Fitzpatrick puts a cool towel on the head of her husband, Steve, after he tried to save his friend from a fire at a Marysville mobile home park Wednesday. Ted Shockley, 88, died in the fire. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

A close friendship is lost to fire

An 88-year-old Smokey Point mobile home resident died despite a valiant effort by neighbors.

SMOKEY POINT — Each day when Steve Fitzpatrick strolled across the street to home No. 104, his neighbor Ted Shockley would greet him with the same line.

“Come on in and tell me a story.”

Yet it was Shockley who had so many stories to tell. He’d been a barrel-chested 205-pound sailor who served in the Navy in the Pacific near the end of World War II, and in the wars in Korea and Vietnam. He’d talk about the islands he’d visited across the ocean: the Solomon archipelago, the Gilbert atolls, Adak, Guam.

Fitzpatrick will miss those stories of his friend who died in a fire Wednesday.

Over the past three years, Fitzpatrick became close friends with Shockley, who in recent months lost his sight, fell into poor health and dropped weight until he was skin and bones, 125 pounds. Days shy of his 89th birthday, he still smoked knockoff-brand rolled tobacco.

“That’s my only entertainment,” he had told Fitzpatrick. “Rolling cigarettes and smoking cigarettes.”

Weeks ago Shockley’s mattress was burned and replaced after a smoking accident, Fitzpatrick said. On Tuesday night Fitzpatrick noticed black marks from cigarette embers in the home. He feared that smoking in bed may have sparked the fire around 9:20 a.m. that took Shockley’s life.

A fire left one man dead Wednesday at the Crystal Tree Village mobile home park. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

A fire left one man dead Wednesday at the Crystal Tree Village mobile home park. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

Hours later the Marysville Fire District confirmed smoking materials had caused the fire at the Crystal Tree Village mobile home park, on 25th Avenue NE in Marysville.

A caretaker, Billie Mooers, was miles away when Shockley called her frantically saying she needed to dial 911.

Fitzpatrick’s wife Shirley, named after Shirley Temple, had stepped outside for a cigarette when she saw a wall of thick dark smoke, she said.

“I could tell by the color that something was really burning, not just a wood stove,” she said. “So I went down to the carport, because the smoke was so thick you couldn’t see where it was coming from.”

She screamed for her husband. Fitzpatrick, 72, a retired concrete worker, snatched a pair of two-pound extinguishers. He ran across the street and pulled open the door of the burning white singlewide home. He was hit with smoke, and he could see chest-high flames. Windows were shattering.

“The smoke was just howling back at me,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick crawled. He saw the man on the floor a few feet from the doorway, curled up, with severe burns. He held his breath and tried to tug Shockley by his bare skin, but it was just too hot. Fitzpatrick retreated to the steps. His head felt like it was burning. He checked to make sure his hair wasn’t on fire, he said. He sprayed the fire extinguishers around Shockley, and lunged back in to pull him out. This time he grabbed under a bent elbow and pulled him to the steps. Another man helped to carry Shockley from the carport to the street.

An elderly man was killed after a mobile home fire Wednesday in Marysville. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

An elderly man was killed after a mobile home fire Wednesday in Marysville. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)

His chest was still rising and falling as he was loaded into an ambulance.

Before the fire, Marsyville firefighters had scheduled a day next month to give out smoke alarms at Crystal Tree Village, department spokeswoman Christie Veley said. Police and fire crews were investigating if the home had a working alarm.

Shockley lived in the home for years. Flames ate through the roof Wednesday, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage. Siding was burnt and mangled. A pickup truck in the carport was scorched. Its front seats still smoldered an hour later.

Fitzpatrick knew his friend’s chances were not good. He recounted memories of his neighbor at 11 a.m. over coffee in his home, with white cream on his face and hands to soothe the burning. His wife draped a cold towel over the top of his head.

He recalled that he and Shockley could talk about anything — as long as it wasn’t politics. Shockley leaned hard to the right, a loyal fan of Fox News. Fitzpatrick is the opposite. At least once a day the Fitzpatricks visited their neighbor.

“He was a good friend,” Fitzpatrick said. “He was a good guy.”

They brought him food, or he’d come over to eat for holidays. Shockley had been taking antibiotics for infections for months. He felt like it made him lose the sense of flavor in his taste buds. But he could eat half a ham at a time. They brought him a ham earlier this week. Shockley’s birthday was going to be Saturday. Two days later, Fitzpatrick will turn 73. They had made plans to go Darrington together to have a good time.

“He loved Darrington,” Fitzpatrick said. “The fact that it wasn’t so, ah — civilized. You could go out and pee in the crick and not get busted.”

Minutes later a neighbor called. Shirley picked up the land-line and stepped into another room. She came back and sat down. At a pause in an interview, she said Shockley had died.

“OK, Ted’s gone,” Fitzpatrick said. He started to cry. “He’s homeward bound now.”

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Granite Falls ‘10-foot alligator’ is actually a tegu named ‘Tazz’

Anybody who spots the docile lizard, last seen near Granite Falls, is asked to notify 911, so Tazz can be reunited with owner.

Photos by Olivia Vanni / The Herald
Gabby Bullock sits on her bed in a room she shares with another housemate on June 14 in Everett.
‘We don’t have openings’: SnoCo recovery houses struggle with demand

Advocates say the homes are critical for addiction recovery. But home prices make starting a sober living house difficult.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Food safety team defends its work: it’s a ‘high pressure, thankless’ job

Management tried to set the record straight about long permit delays in Snohomish County.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Global tech outage leaves a mark on Snohomish County

The CrowdStrike software update hit some systems at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and briefly disrupted 911 operations.

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.