Tony Hsieh: Gone but not forgotten. Fire in New London on Nov. 18 brought down a giant

Tony Hsieh meant so much to Las Vegas
By Maramis
Las Vegas Tribune
Tony Hsieh meant so much to Las Vegas

What had originally been reported was sketchy and only alluded to the fact that he suffered complications from injuries sustained as a result of smoke inhalation, with no details at all about the possible cause of the fire. Even that he had been injured in that fire on November 18 was kept under wraps and most of us did not know about that until after he died in the Bridgeport (burn center) Hospital on the 27th.

At the time of the fire, apparently the identity of the victim, Tony Hsieh, was not given out to the press, possibly because he was still alive and the family asked for privacy. Hsieh’s death on Friday was confirmed by Megan Fazio, a spokeswoman with Hsieh’s Las Vegas-based DTP Companies, yet details about what happened were hard to uncover; she did say that he’d been visiting Connecticut with his brother. We did know that a Zappos employee, Rachael Brown, bought the home where the fire occurred in the same month that Hsieh retired — in August.The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, however, said the cause and manner of Hsieh’s death would remain pending until a final determination could be made. The New London fire chief, Thomas Curcio, told the New London paper, The Courant, that there was only one fire with injuries in New London on Nov. 18, at a home located at 500 Pequot Ave., but would give no details as to who was injured, likely because of the fire itself being under “active investigation.”

It is also possible that considering who was injured, as we now know, that there was some kind of a gag order about what information would be given to the press and when.
Curcio said firefighters were called to the fire at about 3:30 a.m. and were told a person was trapped inside. We do not know, at this time, if he had barred the doors to the storage unit or shed and refused to open them, or if something had caused the doors to not easily open. New London Police Capt. Brian Wright said Hsieh was “locked inside a storage area” and could not escape. Once the firefighters or first responders were able to free the doors, the victim was pulled out and CPR was administered.
The victim was first taken to Lawrence + Memorial hospital, but was later transferred by Life Star helicopter to Bridgeport Hospital, home of the Connecticut Burn Center. At this time, the victim was apparently still not identified as Tony Hsieh, at least not for the public to know.Only minutes after the firefighters arrived, the fire was out and no longer a danger.
But that Nov. 18 fire didn’t make the news until news of his death nine days later flooded the web and news channels.Messages expressing sadness and grief were coming in from all over. Carolyn Goodman, mayor of Las Vegas, where Tony had made a tremendous contribution to uplifting, expanding, and renovating the face of downtown, was one of the many and sent these words: “What a tragic loss. Tony Hsieh meant so much to Las Vegas. He was always dreaming, working to inspire and leading others to create a new vision for tomorrow. Our prayers and sympathies to his family.” —Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman
What hadn’t been reported in conjunction with that fire and his subsequent death, nor should it have been, until officially confirmed, is that, according to close friends, Tony had both an alcohol and drug abuse habit—both of which might have contributed to that fire. The friends revealed those habits to, telling them that Tony used the laughing gas nitrous oxide, and his alcohol of choice was Grey Goose vodka. And since he liked candles, it has been suggested that a lit candle may have interacted with the nitrous oxide, causing the explosion that caused the fire. But as of this writing, none of that has been confirmed.
While his death was ruled an accident, with complications of smoke inhalation, it was so ruled before the official toxicology reports were completed. And they are not expected nor due out until after the first of the year.

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