COPAKE — A fatal car fire in the town of Copake early Friday morning left a man and a dog dead, Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett said.
The fire is under investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control and the Columbia County Cause and Origin Team, Bartlett said.
Columbia County 911 dispatched Hillsdale Fire Company and Community Rescue Squad for a reported vehicle fire in a driveway at 543 North Mountain Road in Copake around 12:05 a.m. Sheriff’s deputies also responded to assist the fire company.
When the units arrived, the vehicle was fully involved, according to the sheriff’s office.
After the fire was extinguished, deputies noticed a body in the front passenger area of the car, according to the sheriff’s office.
The victim’s name has not been released, but the sheriff’s office confirmed the body is that of a man. In addition, a dog was also found dead in the vehicle.
Columbia County Coroner Bernadette Powis responded to the scene and is also investigating. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Saturday morning at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady with Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard to determine the cause of death.
The sheriff’s office is awaiting the results of the autopsy and could release more details about the fire Saturday, public information officer Lt. Wayne Lopez said Friday afternoon. The fire broke out in the car while it was parked in the driveway, but what started the fire and what the man was doing inside the vehicle are factors that remain under investigation, Lopez said.
The Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office also assisted at the scene.
Investigating at the scene for the Sheriff’s Office were Bartlett, Undersheriff John Davi, Capt. John DeRocha, Senior Investigator Kevin Skype, Investigator William Dunspaugh, Investigator Ian Boehme, First Sgt. John Rivero, K9 Sgt. Heath Benansky, Deputy Daniel Keyser and Deputy Matthew Leonard.
Check back for more on this developing story.