Police Confirm Identity of Vestal Fire Victim
Vestal police investigators say they have been able to verify the identity of the man who died in a fast-moving fire at the Skylark Motel.
Authorities on Thursday afternoon announced they had determined the victim was 79-year-old Dhansukh (Dick) Patel, the owner of the motel on the Vestal Parkway.
Police say Patel and his wife resided above the motel office. They were awakened by the fire around 4 a.m. Tuesday.
Investigators say Patel helped his wife to safely escape the blaze but he was unable to get out of the burning building.
Police say there were six guests in the motel when the fire broke out. They all managed to escape. One guest was treated for minor smoke inhalation.
Detectives interviewed Patel's wife and every guest as part of the investigation. One man who had been staying at the motel was not questioned until Thursday morning.
Fire investigators may list the official cause of the blaze as "undetermined." The fire is believed to have started in the first-floor office area. There are indications it was linked to a space heater in the office.
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