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

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Highway 9 work could disrupt travel through Lake Stevens

Construction is set for roundabouts on South Lake Stevens Road and one at North Davies Road and Vernon Road.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Floatplane wreckage recovery in Puget Sound begins

The U.S. Navy will use a remotely operated vehicle Deep Drone 8,000, a barge and a crane in recovery efforts.

U.S. 2 was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish on Monday evening because the Bolt Creek fire spread close to the highway. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
U.S. 2 closed near Skykomish as Bolt Creek fire spreads

The highway was closed from the Money Creek tunnel to Skykomish, mile posts 46 to 50.

This screenshot shows a man being hoisted to a rescue helicopter Monday after being involved in a plane crash near Lake Cavanaugh. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Brothers rescued after plane crash en route to Snohomish area

The two men, 78 and 79, were flying from Skagit County to an airstrip south of Snohomish when their plane went missing.

A woman was injured in an attack Sunday at Clark Park in Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Police: Purse snatching in Everett park led to stabbing

A Snohomish woman, 36, was arrested for investigation of first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.

A semi truck blows smoke out of its exhaust pipes while driving southbound on I-5 on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Reader: Did a tractor-trailer cover my car in diesel soot?

Probably not, according to a Department of Ecology spokesperson, since diesel emissions are getting “cleaner.”

Everett Memorial Stadium and Funko Field on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
City, county studying new outdoor stadium for Everett AquaSox

MLB facility requirements prompted government leaders to look at replacing Funko Field, either there or elsewhere.

Compass Health’s Broadway Campus in Everett. (Sue Misao / Herald file)
Judge dismisses Compass Health lawsuit over Marysville man’s death

Joshua Klick’s estate argued his relationship with a counselor signaled negligence. A judge found the claim had expired.

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
Somers: Federal aid creates ‘historic opportunity’ to tackle challenges

The Snohomish County executive’s plan focuses on public safety, housing, child care, climate — and mountain biking.

Most Read