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Big Pine Key house fire kills man, 71

Monroe County Fire crews work on a house fire on Big Pine Key through the night Thursday.
Monroe County Fire crews work on a house fire on Big Pine Key through the night Thursday.

A 71-year-old man was found dead inside a bedroom at his home on Big Pine Key that went up in flames Thursday night, county officials said.

The single-story structure fire at 31096 Avenue B was reported about 9:12 p.m. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Austin Hopp arrived at 9:15 p.m. and attempted to enter the building, but intense fire and smoke stymied his efforts.

Monroe County firefighters arrived minutes later and knocked down the fire shortly after. When they entered the smoke-filled home to extinguish the blaze, they found the dead man, said Monroe County Deputy Fire Marshal Craig Marston.

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the man died in the fire and his name will be released after his family is notified.

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death. The Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy. And due to the fatality, state law requires the state Fire Marshal’s Office also investigate. The investigation will include the use of a specially trained dog to check for accelerants. There were no preliminary signs of suspicious activity regarding the fire, Marston said.

The house fire quickly was extinguished Thursday but crews stayed throughout the night to put out any flare-ups.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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