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Tuesday, 12 May 2020 21:19

Official: Man’s Body Found in CT Auto Shop After Fire

Written by Cassandra Day, Hearst Connecticut Media
State and local authorities are still investigating the discovery of a man’s body found following an early April fire that destroyed a former auto parts store. State and local authorities are still investigating the discovery of a man’s body found following an early April fire that destroyed a former auto parts store. Cassandra Day, Hearst Connecticut Media

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State and local authorities are investigating the discovery of a man’s body found under “mysterious circumstances” following an early April fire that destroyed a former auto parts store in the south area of Middletown, CT.

Firefighters were called to the fast-moving, two-alarm blaze at 3:30 a.m. April 5 at the onetime Car Quest Auto Parts store at 311 Main St. Extension, according to South Fire District Chief Michael Howley.

 

“State police, police and the fire marshal are putting their heads together to solve the mystery,” he said.

 

The unidentified individual who perished in the fire was found inside the structure. Investigators determined the front door was smashed in, he added. No other details were available.

 

An excavator was used to assist in the removal of heavy rubble, and, as layers of debris were removed, a body was located, Middletown Police Lt. Heather Desmond said in a press release May 11.

 

At one point, the intensity of the blaze caused firefighters to pull back from the building, according to the South Fire District Firefighters IAFF Local 3918 Facebook page.

 

Because of the age and construction of the facility---the wood frame and balloon construction---the structure was consumed by rapidly moving flames, the chief added. “It was just an old timber building.”

 

What remains is a partially-standing building surrounded by a pile of metal, brick and concrete. Portions of the brick facade remain, but the wooden frame of the 3,552-square foot facility built in 1936 has been reduced to a charred rubble.

 

When the two large metal-frame billboards on the property went up in flames, crews were concerned about which direction they would fall, as well as the safety of fire personnel and apparatus operators.

 

“The signs were a staple there for 50, 60 years. They were big and heavy and a hazard for us. It was just a matter of time,” before they toppled, the chief said.

 

Middletown property records show the property is owned by John C. Seagrave.


Seagrave didn’t return a request for comment by press time.

 

Two days prior to the fire, the owner found the window of the front door broken, Desmond said. He searched the building and did not find anything suspicious. The day before the fire, the owner reported the damage to the police and provided pictures of the damage. The incident was documented, she added.

 

The body has been identified and next of kin has been notified. Once the investigation is complete, city police expect to release more information.

 

The historic building once housed a machine shop in the back. “People would send their wheel drums there to be replaced,” the chief said.

 

There were many flammable materials inside the building, such as paint supplies and machine shop materials.

 

The cause and the origin will be determined after reports expected to be filed by the state’s fire marshal office are concluded, Howley said.

 

We thank the Middletown Press for reprint permission

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