Police: Fatal car fire in parking lot ruled an accident

February 23, 2021 GMT

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A car fire in a Connecticut shopping center parking lot that killed a man earlier this month started accidentally when the vehicle got stuck in a snowbank and its spinning tires sparked the blaze, police said Tuesday.

Police in West Hartford also released the man’s name: Stephen Pelletier, 66, of Hartford.

A police officer discovered the car fully engulfed in flames at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 3. The intensity of the fire kept the officer from getting to the inside, officials said. Pelletier was found dead in the driver’s seat after firefighters extinguished the blaze, police said.


Pelletier died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, the medical examiner’s office said.

State police Sgt. Paul Makuc told The Hartford Courant that spinning tires started the fire and it’s unclear why Pelletier was not able to get out of the car.

West Hartford Fire Marshal Michael Sinsigalli said Tuesday that investigators are awaiting toxicology results and have not yet issued a formal ruling on the cause and manner of the fire.

Pelletier grew up in East Granby, worked for many years as an auto mechanic and bought and sold numerous properties in the Hartford area over the years, according to an obituary in the Courant.