Police identify man killed in Niles Township garage fire

Published: Feb. 10, 2016 at 12:22 AM EST
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Police have identified the man killed Tuesday in a Niles Township garage fire.

Dennis Frame, 52, died in his garage in the 2400 block of Rebecca Lane. Police confirmed in a news release that Frame died of asphyxia by smoke inhalation of combustible materials.

Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, crews were dispatched to Frame's home after reports of explosion-like sounds. They arrived to find the garage engulfed in flames and Frame's body, inside his vehicle, which was still in the garage.

Rebecca Ln. remained quiet Wednesday morning unlike the night before, which started with a 911 call from Frame’s next door neighbor.

“I heard a thud sound, a loud thud sound and glanced to the right at the neighbors and saw smoke billowing out of the roof,” said Judi Ingleright, neighbor, dialed 911.

What neighbors didn't realize at the time was that Frame was still inside.

“I turned the news on and I just screamed…and I’m like no…,” said Mary Dockey, neighbor.

“It was a shock when we found out that his car was in there and that they thought he was in it,” said Ingleright.

Wednesday morning investigators were back on scene sifting through debris. The car Frame was found inside remains in the garage.

A motorcycle and garden tractor were also in the garage, along with other things that could have accounted for the loud sounds heard by neighbors.

“I think his main goal was to get his truck out, which would be Dennis,” said Dockey.

Fire crews say there was some source of heat that played into the fire, but at this time it's unclear what that was.

Family and neighbors also gathered at the home in search of comfort.

“He was the best neighbor. When my dad died three years ago, Dennis came and cut our yard, just out of the goodness of his heart, knowing we were busy with funeral arrangements,” said Ingleright.

“I just remember the time I had a chipmunk in my house and I was out here screaming like a little girl, and he's like ‘are you okay?’ and I’m like ‘yeah there's a chipmunk’ and he's like ‘I’ll get him’ and he came in and got him out for me," said Dockey.

Calling him the perfect neighbor.

“He had the best lawn,” said Ingleright.

“He had it always mowed this way like a golf course. He was very, very proud of his yard,” said Dockey.

“We're all going to miss him. He was a great guy,” said Ingleright.

Police say Frame's family has been notified and an autopsy was conducted Wednesday in Grand Rapids.

Niles Township Fire Chief Gary Brovold says there was so much in the garage, and so many variables that the cause of fire has been ruled undetermined.

Family believe the source of heat, as the chief mentioned, was possibly a heater, and when Frame realized there was a fire, they think he was attempting to get his truck out of the garage.

Brovold says the investigation is closed unless the insurance company wants to conduct their own investigation.