Less than two days after a Stephenville resident was found dead in his makeshift home, local and state fire officials have issued preliminary findings following the investigation of the charred remains of the Monday night blaze.
Fire Inspector Cody Derrick, a certified fire investigator with the Stephenville Fire Department, examined the scene just hours after the blaze and called the fire an accident, according to Fire Chief Jimmy Chew.
Following Derrick’s ruling, two deputy investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s office accompanied local officials to the scene to aide in the investigation.
“They ran an accelerant-detecting dog through the building,” Chew said. “No accelerant was found.”
In examining the evidence, state investigators agreed with Derrick’s findings and pointed to a heater as the cause.
“The cause was determined to be an electric space heater that was too close to combustible materials in the area of the bed,” Chew said.
Donnie Everette Angel, 34, was found dead at the scene after firefighters extinguished the inferno that consumed a wooden shed in the back yard of a Green Street home. The victim, formerly of Lampasas, had set up residence in the shed.
Chew also said preliminary autopsy results show Angel died as a result of the fire.
“The autopsy shows the victim died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation,” Chew said. “The preliminary results show his death was an accident, but a final ruling will not be released until the full autopsy is complete.”
Finally, Chew said the state joining in on the investigation is standard operating procedure.
“Cody’s (Derrick) preliminary findings were dead on with the state investigators,” Chew said. “There was never a doubt about his findings, but any time there is a fire that results in a death, we call in the state, regardless of the circumstance.”