Another RV fire extinguished on Hoffman Road

Yet another recreational vehicle parked on Hoffman Road went up in smoke over the weekend.

Yet another recreational vehicle parked on Hoffman Road went up in smoke over the weekend.

This time, no people or animals were injured in the fire.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Jobie Gause said a trooper with the Washington State Patrol was driving on Highway 20 just north of Oak Harbor at about 10:20 p.m. Saturday when he happened to look over and see smoke rising from the area, which had previously been a roadside homeless encampment.

Firefighters from North Whidbey and the Navy arrived shortly afterward to find that an RV parked on the shoulder was fully involved in flames.

“The fire was so big there were trees burning and flames touching the power lines,” he said, adding that Puget Sound Energy was contacted to make sure the wires weren’t active.

Gause said the crews were able to extinguish the conflagration in about 30 minutes, but digging through the remnants and putting out hot spots took until midnight. Firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to ensure nothing was still smoldering when they left.

Gause said the RV had been packed with a large assortment of items, from clothing to RV furniture to metal items to trash. Propane tanks were hissing in the heat.

Gause said it’s unknown who owned the RV. Neither the trooper nor firefighters saw anyone in the area. The battalion chief said it’s also unknown what caused the fire and it will likely remain that way since the vehicle was a total, smoldering loss.

Only a few vehicles are left on the short stretch of road, which used to be the site of upwards of 40 RVs and cars, many of which were broken down. Dozens of people were living out of the vehicles at one time.

But the encampment generated complaints from neighbors who were concerned about the amount of trash as well as criminal activity. Island County Sheriff Rick Felici spearheaded an effort to clean up the site, which was a long involved process because of the constitutional rights of people living there.

The county twice brought out heavy equipment to remove the large amounts of trash and junk. Late last year, the county began tagging the vehicles for removal; after they were taken away, Public Works dumped truck loads of dirt on the side of the road to prevent other vehicles from being parked there.

The blaze was at least the fourth RV fire in the last year. In October, a dog died inside an aging RV that caught fire.