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Monday, April 14, 2003

Westport Man Found Dead in House Fire

A 52-year-old Westport man apparently set fire to a boat and house and then killed himself with a gun early today, fire officials said. At least one firefighter was slightly injured when he became trapped for a brief time while battling the blaze.

A neighbor spotted a boat burning alongside the house at 2 Moss Ledge Road, off of Long Lots Road, shortly after 4 a.m. and called police. When the first police officers arrived they found the burning boat and then saw flames in the house, a two-story colonial.

The victim, later identified by police as William P. Croarkin, was found dead in a second floor bedroom, according to the officials. They said they believe he set the fires and then killed himself with a shotgun found next to his body but that their investigation was continuing.

No one else was at home at the time. Both the house and boat suffered heavy damage.

One firefighter, Todd Denke, 36, of Westport, became trapped for a brief time on the second floor as he fought the blaze. He called for help on his radio and after a few harrowing moments escaped by crashing through a window and sliding head first down a ladder erected by fellow firefighters.

He was transported to Norwalk Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

About 30 firefighters, including volunteers, responded to the alarm.

First Selectwoman Diane Farrell was among those on the scene, along with Fire Chief Denis McCarthy and Deputy Police Chiefs Donald Brown, Al Fiore and David Heinmiller.



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