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Update: Police ID Body Found Inside Sunnyside St. Home

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UPDATE 12/17/2015

Staunton police have named the victim found dead in a house fire earlier this week.

Investigators have identified the man as Dennis Eckard. He is the man who lived at the home on Sunnyside Street in the city.

Police are still awaiting an autopsy report to determine whether it was in fact the fire that killed Eckard.


A man is dead after a fire in Staunton destroyed the first floor of a duplex.

Crews responded to the home on Sunnyside Street just before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 15. They were able to get the fire under control within minutes, but inside they found a man dead in a chair.

Investigators found what they're calling an "improperly discarded" cigarette near the upholstered chair, which is believed to be the cause of the fire. They also said the apartment was equipped with a smoke alarm, but it was found to be in inoperable condition.

The deputy fire marshal says the victim was alone in the home at the time, and that he has no identifiable markings on his body to help confirm who he is.

Staunton police aren't releasing the victim’s name pending release of an autopsy report, but neighbors say they knew about him.

"He just stuck to himself. They had a lot of family a lot of family went in and out of there a lot. My prayers go out to them," said neighbor Butch Chandler.

Neighbors say they man who lived there was nicknamed "Bubba."

"We were neighbors. We talked, I used to shovel the sidewalk and the cars in the winter, and they used to cut the grass in the summer. We kind of had that worked out, and they were always friendly. We always spoke, we didn't have a very very close relationship, but we were good neighbors," Chandler said.

Fire officials won't confirm whether the man who lived there was the man who died, but they can confirm there was only one person inside the home at the time.

Police also want to know whether it was in fact the fire that killed the man found inside. Fire officials say they don't suspect foul play.

The victim’s body is at the medical examiner's office for that autopsy right now.

Release from Staunton Fire Chief R. Scott Garber:

Staunton Fire & Rescue was dispatched to 304/306 Sunnyside Street for a reported structural fire at 9:26 PM.

The first company arrived on the scene at 9:28 with a 2-story wood frame duplex with a working fire in 306 Sunnyside St. All occupants had safely evacuated 304.

Personnel were advised of an occupant possibly inside 306. Personnel quickly entered the fire apartment, extinguishing the fire and searching for the occupant. The occupant was located in a chair and was determined to be deceased. The fire was under control at 9:36 PM.

Deputy Fire Marshal Weller in conjunction with Staunton Police Department conducted the fire investigation. The fire was determined to have started in the upholstered chair from an improperly discarded cigarette.

The apartment was equipped with a smoke alarm but was found to be in inoperable condition.

Staunton PD will handle any occupant name release with the conclusion of the autopsy.

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