Man found dead in burning chair identified

October 14, 2012
Updated 6:57 p.m.
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— The man who was found dead in a burning chair Saturday afternoon has been identified as 59-year-old James G. Clause.

After an autopsy carried out at Ellis Hospital, cause of death was ruled as accidental due to “massive third-degree burns on most of Clause’s body,” according to Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond.

The fatal fire occurred at approximately 4 p.m. in a second floor residence on Route 443 in the hamlet of Gallupville.

“Some friends were coming to visit [Clause],” Desmond said. “They saw the smoke and went to the general store to call 911.”

Gallupville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Boomhower said his men went up the stairs with a hose, reporting over the radio a small isolated fire in a chair occupied by a man, “clearly deceased.”

“I told them to put out the flames with as little water as possible,” he said. “It was a crime scene at that point.”

Investigators from the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control were on the scene within a few hours.

“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” Desmond said, “I don’t know if we will ever know what started it.”

Boomhower declined to speculate on what caused the fire.

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