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Cause pending in Tuesday fire that claimed man’s life / July 14, 2014

Charred remains of a man, believed to be 80-year old Thomas S. Heilig, were discovered late Wednesday afternoon after local firefighters responded to a house fire hours earlier at Heilig’s residence at 2246 Highview Road near Vernon Hall.

The Oak Level Volunteer Fire Department responded with two trucks and three firefighters, Halifax sent three trucks and six firefighters, Liberty sent two trucks and four firefighters and two firefighters from the South Boston Department joined the effort after receiving a call shortly before 1 p.m. that the two-story wooden frame house was ablaze.

Firefighters remained on the scene until 4:30 p.m. that day. The house was declared a total loss.

Across the street, neighbors who first reported the fire said they heard an explosion, even before seeing smoke coming from the structure.

Firefighters later found propane tanks that may be responsible for the explosion that neighbors said they heard.

Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark said Virginia State Police has been called in to investigate the fire and the death of the man, although no foul play is believed to have been involved. With the remains so badly burned that it was not possible to positively identify the body, Clark said that he asked for assistance from the Virginia State Police.

No cause has been established, although there is a possibility that an electrical shortage in a fan found near the body might have started the fire.

The body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Richmond for an autopsy. Clark said yesterday he has not yet received any information back from the office.

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