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Cause Unknown For Fire That May Have Caused Zappos Founder's Death

Fire damage inside a storage shed where Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of the online shoe retailer Zappos, died on Nov. 18, 2020.
New London Fire Department via AP
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Fire damage inside a storage shed where Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of the online shoe retailer Zappos, died on Nov. 18, 2020.

The fire marshal of the City of New London, Connecticut, has ruled the cause of a November fire “undetermined” after investigating the 2020 death of Tony Hsieh, the founder of the online retailer Zappos.

Fire Marshal Vernon Skau said there were several sources that could have caused the fire.

“The first being a carelessly discarded smoking material. Second, there was a propane heater being used in the area of origin that was close to combustibles. Third, there were candles in the area of the fire of origin that could have caused the fire and fourth it could have been a careless act or even an intentional act by Mr. Hsieh,” Skau said.

Brian Wright is a captain with New London Police. He says the department is still awaiting the state chief medical examiner’s autopsy report. However, the results of their investigation are unlikely to change.

“The report has not been completed but at this time we don’t believe so, but I can’t rule that out. But it does appear at this point in time from all the information we’ve gathered from the investigation that there are any criminal aspects,” Wright said.

Hsieh was found unresponsive in the shed of a close friend’s house when fire and police were called to the property in November.

Police believed Hsieh locked himself in the shed at the home after having an argument with the property owner, a close friend of his. Police said there are no criminal charges being pursued in the case.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.