Crime & Courts

Hooper Bay man faces murder, arson charges in fire that killed man inside home

A 19-year-old Hooper Bay man is facing murder and arson charges in connection to a fire earlier this month that killed a man inside a home in the Western Alaska village, authorities say.

Witnesses told investigators they saw Grant Hill fighting with a family member outside the home just before the fire began the afternoon of March 9, according to a sworn affidavit filed with charges by Alaska Trooper Steven Lantz, who is based in Hooper Bay. Hill later told the trooper that he started the fire, the affidavit said.

When Lantz arrived at the fire, thick smoke was billowing from the house as residents tried to extinguish the blaze with hoses, he wrote.

One man escaped through a back window of the home and was brought to the local clinic for evaluation and treatment, according to the affidavit.

Victor Smith, a 43-year-old who lived in the home, was taken to the Hooper Bay clinic but died as a result of injuries sustained in the fire, troopers said in an online dispatch. The other man later told investigators he and Smith both tried to put out the flames, according to the affidavit. Lantz said he could see singed hair on the man’s head and face.

Hill went to the public safety office shortly after the fire and told a village police officer that he had used cardboard and a couch cushion to start the blaze, the affidavit said. Lantz interviewed Hill, who told him that he had been angry at the man who survived the fire “for making false accusations against him and striking him upon the head,” the trooper wrote.

Hill was arrested on first-degree charges of murder, arson and criminal mischief. He remained in custody Monday at the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center in Bethel.

Hooper Bay, a village of about 1,300 people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, was one of five communities “severely damaged” by a historic storm last September that left a trail of destruction throughout many Western Alaska villages.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at