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Body of 80-year-old man discovered in house fire

The charred remains of an 80-year-old Halifax man were found Wednesday following a house fire that occurred shortly after noon at 2246 Highview Road in Halifax.

According to Halifax County Sheriff Fred S. Clark, no foul play is suspected in the fire that claimed the life of Thomas S. Heilig, but an investigation is continuing into the blaze.

Because the body was burned beyond recognition, the sheriff said it was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Richmond to confirm identity and cause of death.

When firefighters from Oak Level, Liberty, South Boston and Halifax volunteer fire departments arrived on the scene shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, they found the two-story wooden frame house fully involved as well as a truck on fire behind the home.

Neighbors across the street reported the fire after hearing what they described as sounding like an explosion before seeing smoke coming from the house, the sheriff said.

Oak Level Volunteer Fire Department responded with two trucks and three firefighters and Liberty Volunteer Fire Department assisted with two trucks and four firefighters. Halifax Volunteer Fire Department arrived with three trucks and six firefighters, and two firefighters assisted from South Boston Volunteer Fire Department, according to Dean Waltman of Oak Level Volunteer Fire Department. 

Firefighters remained on the scene until about 4:30 p.m. fighting the flames using 7,500 gallons of water. 

Upon investigating the home, firefighters found a few propane tanks and suggested they could be responsible for the explosion neighbors heard, Waltman said. 

The fire is believed to have started near an old fan that Clark said may have shorted out. Evidence of the fire starting around the fan was found near Heilig’s body, he added.

Clark said a neighbor had reported seeing Heilig about two hours prior to the blaze.

Heilig, a retired Chrysler employee, had moved to the Highview Road residence about 15 years ago, the sheriff said.