Hearth that killed Zappo founder Tony Hsieh probably brought on by ‘negligence’, ‘intentional act’: officers

Connecticut Hearth investigator has launched a number of hypotheses in reference to the fireplace in New London that killed Zappo’s founder Tony Hsieh on the finish of final yr and is contemplating whether or not blaze was brought on by potential misuse of sunshine, careless disposal of smoking supplies or even when “a deliberate act by Hsieh” was in charge.

The 19-page incident report launched by the New London Hearth Division on Tuesday describes how a number of individuals, together with Tony Hsieh and his brother Andrew, had been dwelling within the house on Pequot Avenue when the fireplace broke out simply earlier than 3:30 p.m. 18, 2020. Everybody besides Tony Hsieh might escape.

Hsieh was “imprisoned” within the pool room, the report mentioned, by protect doorways that had been “locked with a single keypad deadbolt fashion lock.”


Hsieh and the group had been scheduled to fly to Hawaii shortly after the fireplace broke out and a limousine had arrived to take them to the airport at 3:20 a.m., in keeping with a timeline offered by the fireplace division.

Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh judges contestants through the fourth annual Halloween parade in Las Vegas on October 31, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller / Getty Pictures)

Hsieh, 46, had lived within the shed-like room after he and the house owner and his infamous girlfriend, Rachael Brown, had a dialogue at about 11:30 p.m. the evening earlier than. She requested him to depart the property till they went to Maui, and Hsieh moved to the pool room.

The timeline exhibits that his mates had been watching him each ten minutes, together with once they informed Hsieh that it was time to depart at 03:20 At the moment he answered, “5 extra minutes.”

However at 03:21 the carbon monoxide detector alarm had been activated. At 03:24, a digital camera positioned on the entrance to the shed had failed because of the fireplace, the timeline exhibits. The hearth brigade was known as at 3:26

Only a few minutes earlier, at 03:14, the authorities mentioned {that a} crash could possibly be heard contained in the shed.

It took six minutes from the primary fireplace truck to reach on the scene for respondents to reach at Hsieh, the report notes. When firefighters discovered him, he was “mendacity on his again on a blanket” contained in the shed.

Hsieh “was together with his left aspect on the blanket and his proper aspect barely raised together with his proper arm over his chest”, the report describes. “Hsieh was going through the 2 doorways that had been compelled open by firefighters.”


A sketch launched by the fireplace brigade exhibits that the flames ignite between Hsieh and his solely apparent exit. Candles, a marijuana tube and cigarettes had been discovered on the scene, in keeping with the report.

His dying was thought of unintentional and was brought on by issues from smoke inhalation, officers mentioned earlier.

A New London Fire Department sketch shows the approximate location of Tony Hsieh's body at the time of the fire.  (New London Fire Department)

A New London Hearth Division sketch exhibits the approximate location of Tony Hsieh’s physique on the time of the fireplace. (New London Hearth Division)

Authorities reportedly doesn’t suppose there was crime concerned however mentioned the reason for the fireplace to date is undetermined. Investigators recognized 4 potential hypotheses, together with that “gentle abuse began this fireplace,” the report mentioned.

“A number of candles had been present in and across the space with fireplace,” the report explains. It states that one of many others who lived in the home mentioned that he checked out Hsieh round 1 o’clock and noticed “candles burning and that one of many candles began a fireplace on a part of a blanket.”

The report provides: “The actual fact that there have been candles situated within the space with the fireplace and the truth that about two hours earlier than the fireplace occurred, an unintentional fireplace occurred in a blanket … improper use of sunshine couldn’t be eradicated as a reason for this fireplace.”

A second of the 4 hypotheses describes how the fireplace might probably have been began by “negligence and even an intentional act by Hsieh”, the report states.


Investigators found a burnt plastic bag with sung Submit-it notes contained in the close to fireplace space and a grey basket that additionally contained burnt paper.

Authorities examined video displaying Hsieh had set the plastic bag on fireplace, officers mentioned.

The invention, in keeping with the report, is “an indication of a hearth sample that will have triggered this fireplace.”

Witnesses additionally informed investigators that earlier within the evening they found a candle burning a blanket within the shed “close to Hsieh.

The hearth division additionally mentioned it discovered “bodily proof to theorize that Hsieh could have been impaired or intoxicated on the time of the fireplace.”

In accordance with the report, authorities found “a number of Whip-It nitric oxide chargers and whipped cream dispensers, a marijuana tube and Fernet Branca liqueur bottles.” Investigators additionally discovered “a plastic bottle with a Tiki-branded torch” within the space.

“Intoxication can have an effect on a person’s capacity to acknowledge and reply to the hazards posed by fireplace,” the report explains.

Investigators additionally say the fireplace might have began when a propane heater “got here in direct contact or close to the heating components with the close by flamable substances that resulted within the fireplace.” The heater was positioned on or close to a pile of storage close to the door and “was situated in an space with probably the most warmth injury and mass lack of materials,” the report explains.

“This thermal injury and mass lack of materials is the results of a fireplace that occurred within the space close to / under the propane tank,” the report continues. “The hearth heated the propane tank to a degree when the reduction valve served as a design for [relieve] the strain within the tank. This resulted within the propane fuel flowing from the tank and coming into contact with the open flame. “

The report additionally mentioned that one of many two heating components had been damaged or eliminated and that the unit “was not hooked up to the carrying deal with and was in a horizontal place with the heating factor mendacity on the carrying deal with.”

It describes how there’s a “low proportion of the chance” that the fireplace was ignited on this manner however mentioned that the chance couldn’t be eradicated.

One other speculation was that the fireplace was brought on by “carelessly discarded smoking materials (both cigarettes or marijuana).”

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Investigators reported discovering “a number of discarded cigarettes” within the space, along with the marijuana pipe. However the report additionally describes how there’s a “low proportion of the chance” that the fireplace began on this manner.

A spokesman for Hsieh’s household mentioned they’d not remark “as a result of they proceed to mourn.”

The spokesman added: “Proper now and for the foreseeable future, they’re specializing in their work to proceed Tony’s legacy.”

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