5 bodies found in debris of Hubbard house fire

More than 40 investigators have been working the scene

Sheriff's deputies say the Kroeker family is unaccounted for following a fire at their Hubbard home, January 3, 2017. (Courtesy photo to KOIN)
Sheriff's deputies say the Kroeker family is unaccounted for following a fire at their Hubbard home, January 3, 2017. (Courtesy photo provided to KOIN 6 News via neighbors)

HUBBARD, Ore. (KOIN) — Investigators have found the bodies of a man, woman and 3 children in the debris of a Hubbard home that was set on fire on January 3.

The bodies are consistent with the 5 people who lived there — Erin and Keith Kroeker and their 3 children, Leia, Luke and Braedon. The medical examiner will need to confirm the identities.

“First and foremost I extend my condolences to the Kroeker family,” Sheriff Jason Myers said. “While this investigation is not yet complete, I would like to thank and recognize the 100 plus first responders, investigators and support personnel from various local, state and federal agencies who continue to work tirelessly during this difficult and complex investigation.”

Neighbor Merry Shipman was stunned by what happened at the Kroeker home early Tuesday morning.

“How can we even face that? It’s so awful,” Shipman said of the possibility that the whole family died in the fire. “They must’ve been a wonderful family.”

Shipman said she didn’t know the family well, but another neighbor, Olivia Palacios told KOIN they were “really sweet,” and brought her family cookies for Christmas.

More than 40 investigators have been working the scene for 3 days, looking for evidence in the debris.

“It reminds me of archaeology,” Lt. Chris Baldridge with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. “They actually have sifting screens. They are sifting the large debris to a smaller screen and sifting that in another screen down to a tarp to decide what is evidence and what is not.”

The search for evidence is complicated by the fact that the 2-story house collapsed on itself and the water used to extinguish the fire has frozen.

Officials will said the fire was intentionally set. The 3 separate structures that burned were far enough apart that the first might not have spread to them without some human assistance.

The sheriff’s department also said that at this point in their investigation, they do not believe there is any danger to the public. The Sheriff’s department plans to continue their work on the scene all night and wrap up there sometime Friday.

“We have a lot to do,” Baldridge said. “We have 5 deceased individuals and we need to find out what happened here.”