NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Two days before the Nov. 18, 2020 fire which would claim the life of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, New London firefighters responded to two fires at the same Pequot Avenue home in the early morning hours of Nov. 16.
After the first call, a person met firefighters at the door “… stating it was an accidental activation due to cooking and the(re) was no problem at the house.”
After the second response, firefighters insisted on entering the home where a male did not want them to investigate the cause of the alarm.
The report states:
“Upon accessing the lower basement level, a slight smoke condition was found. Also found were melted plastic items on the stovetop along with cardboard that was hot to the touch. The stove was found to be off. A female appeared who stated that she was the homeowner. Worked with her on soaking all the items that were melted in a sink full of water. Also found was an unattended candle burning in an unsafe location which was extinguished.”
Two days later, Hsieh was critically injured in a fire in a shed at the back of the home.
“It’s just a shame,” said neighbor Elwin Schwartz. “It’s a shame for all of us because he was a bright young man who had wonderful ideas and he’s gone now.”
“I knew that before the actual fire occurred that somebody of some import was here because there were some large busses and limousines around,” said Schwartz.
News 8 went to the home to see if anyone there wanted to comment on the recent reports released by the New London Fire Department.
The man who answered the door was gracious – especially considering their loss and the circumstances – but had no comment.
He indicated they eventually may have something to say.
The home was bought in August by Rachel Brown, a top Zappos employee. In 2019, the company wrote a blog post indicating she was one of “the women who’ve changed Zappos history” and that she “lead a team to teach all employees the company culture, in addition to answering phones.”
“She evidently grew up here is what I heard and then moved out and obviously moved her way up through Zappos,” said Schwartz.
Firefighters continue to investigate the Nov. 18 fire.