I-Team: Tony Hsieh slept with propane heater, candles before fire that killed him, report says

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Former Zappos CEO died in November fire

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh had retreated to a shed at a Connecticut home after a fight with his girlfriend and was using a propane heater to stay warm before the fire that killed him, the I-Team confirmed Tuesday.

Investigators in New London, Connecticut, said Hsieh was in a storage room with a 20-pound propane tank at the time of the Nov. 18 fire. Hsieh died in Connecticut on Friday, Nov. 27 after being rescued from the fire. He was 46.

VIDEO: Body camera video of firefighters responding to blaze.

“The tank was venting product” after Hsieh was pulled from the home, a report said. Hsieh died from complications of smoke inhalation, according to the Connecticut Office of the Medical Examiner, though the report was not complete Tuesday.

According to witness reports, Hsieh was lying in a storage area with a blanket near candles. Part of the blanket and a plastic bag had caught fire earlier in the night, the report said.

Firefighters were called to the home at 500 Pequot Ave. around 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 18. The three-story waterfront home contains guest quarters on the basement level. That level opens up to a pool area behind the house, records obtained by the I-Team show. A storage area, which looks like a shed, is attached to the back of the building on that level.

SLIDESHOW: Photos released by New London Fire Department showing the home and fire damage in the shed.

Fire officials previously told the I-Team they had to force their way into the storage area and pull Hsieh out.

Surveillance video shows Hsieh opening the door to the shed as smoke appeared to be coming from it 10 minutes before his friends call 911, investigators said. An employee had been checking on Hsieh every 10 minutes, leaving Post-It Notes and knocking on the shed’s door before the fire, investigators said.

Hsieh was traveling with a nurse and a driver who were staying at a hotel nearby, investigators said Tuesday. He had planned to fly to Hawaii the morning of the fire.

Video footage obtained by investigators shows friends bringing Hsieh whip-its and a whip-it canister, the report said.

When asked if there was any indication Hsieh tried to escape, Fire Marshal Vernon Skau said he did not know.

Last month, a judge named Hsieh’s father and brother as special administrators to his estate since the entrepreneur did not have a will. In a statement provided to the I-Team after his death, Hsieh’s family thanked the community for its “outpouring of love and respect.”

Hsieh led retail giant Zappos for 20 years and retired as CEO back in August 2020. He played a pivotal role in the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas and had an estimated net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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