Final Almeda Fire Victim Identified

The final unidentified victim of the September, 8 2020 Almeda Fire has been positively identified. Derrick Glenn Mills, 55, originally from Yreka, Calif. was found deceased approximately one mile from the fire’s origin. Mills was reported missing in March of 2021.

Mills. Courtesy of JCSO

Late last month, an extended family member provided a DNA sample that ultimately identified him as the remaining Almeda Fire victim.

Mills has been a Jackson County community member since at least 2002, after being born and raised in nearby Yreka, Calif. On the day of the Almeda Fire, Mills’ remains were found at the 8.9-mile marker of the Bear Creek Greenway between Ashland and Talent, Ore. An autopsy conducted on September 9 confirmed Mills perished in the fire. His cause of death was determined to be thermal injuries and inhalation. There are no indications of suspicious circumstances surrounding Mills’ death.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) Medical Examiner detectives worked alongside Ashland Police Department (APD) to identify the remains of the final unidentified victim of the Almeda Fire. JCSO ME detectives worked diligently to identify the remaining fire victim, eventually tracking down and ruling out more than 20 missing person leads during their investigation. 

In June 2021, Mills was determined to be a possible match for the unidentified fire victim, but authorities were unable to obtain a DNA standard from the close identified relative. Mills’ extended family out of Kansas contacted JCSO after seeing a news story about the unidentified person case. At that point they were able to provide the DNA sample that ended up identifying their missing family member. Oregon State Police (OSP) Medical Examiner Division obtained the positive scientific identification while working with the DNA technology company, Parabon Nanolabs to process potential DNA matches and create a victim composite. 

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. APD is heading the criminal homicide investigation. For further information contact the OSP Medical Examiner’s office at (971) 673-8200. For information on the criminal homicide investigation call APD at (541) 488-2211.