SHERMAN — The man who was trapped in a basement while his Sherman home burned down was identified as 76-year-old Richard Genalski, according to the Connecticut State Police.
The residential fire, located on Route 55 West, was reported to Sherman officials Sunday around 6:22 p.m. While two people in the home were able to escape, Genalski was trapped in the basement, according to the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department.
Once firefighters arrived, they noticed the basement was “fully involved” and fire was spreading throughout the home, the fire department said.
Firefighters were eventually able to extinguish the fire, but the home suffered “catastrophic damage” and collapsed, the fire department said.
Detectives with multiple agencies were able to find Genalski’s remains the next day around 2:35 p.m., police said.
Eighteen dogs and one chicken were rescued from the property. One of Genalski’s family friends is collecting donations for the dogs through New Milford’s Regional Animal Control facility.
“Richie was a family friend of mine,” said Taylor Hoffman, a New Milford resident working with Clatter Valley Farm CSA. “My own family dogs growing up are dogs from this man, so I have dogs at home that look just like these dogs that are in the pounds now. These are dogs that are my dogs’ brothers and sisters.”
Genalski’s remains were transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington for examination.
The medical examiner determined the cause of death as accidental and the result of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, police said.
The Sherman Fire Marshal’s Office, Connecticut State Police’s Fire and Explosion Investigative Unit and the Western District Major Crime Squad are investigating the fire. The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department said Monday that there is no indication of a crime related to the fire.