Homeless man dies in bodyshop blaze

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Staff reporter

ST. ROSE — Firefighters in St. Rose, who were extinguishing a blaze at a St. Rose auto repair shop Friday evening, discovered the body of a homeless man who was taking shelter in the building, according to a release from the state fire marshal.

Louisiana Fire Marshal H. Butch Browning said in the release that the fatal fire broke out inside Capitano’s Truck Repair, 310 Almedia Rd., sometime around 9:41 p.m. Friday. When firefighters had finally smothered the flames they discovered the body of a middle-aged man among the debris.

The release from Browning said that the fire completely gutted the metal-framed building, which housed the repair shop as well as an office area overlooking the work area. The shop’s owner, John Capitano, told investigators that the victim of the fire, whose name was not released, worked in the shop and often slept in the office space.

According to the release, Capitano told authorities that the building was equipped with smoke detectors, but investigators were unable to find any components of the alarms due to the extreme heat and damage from the fire.

Investigators have yet to determine what exactly triggered the fire, since they have been unable to rule out several potential accidental causes, but the release said there is no indication that the fire was intentionally set.

The victim’s name and cause of death have been withheld until investigators can reach family members of the deceased man. The owners of the shop knew him only as “Danny.”