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Coroner: CL man died of smoke inhalation in basement fire

Published: Sunday, April 14, 2013 9:23 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, April 15, 2013 2:42 p.m. CDT
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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Authorities are investigating the death of a homeowner after crews responded Sunday morning to a report of a fire at a residence in the 1700 block of Moorland Lane in Crystal Lake.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Police are looking into “suspicious circumstances” surrounding a Sunday morning fire and death of a Crystal Lake man, who died of smoke inhalation.

The man, identified by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office as 49-year-old Dunn Mizell, died Sunday after a fire in the basement of his 1709 Moorland Lane home.

The coroner's office said in a news release Mizell died of smoke inhalation. Mizell's carbon monoxide level was elevated, and toxicology results are pending, the coroner's office added.

Police tape cordoned off the two-story home Sunday as investigators tried to piece together the events that surrounded the man’s death.

“There are many pieces to the puzzle to determine the cause of death or circumstances leading up to it,” Crystal Lake Police Cmdr. Dan Dziewior said.

Authorities said a McHenry County Sheriff’s Office deputy had driven Mizell’s wife home Sunday morning, but the woman could not enter the house because the garage door was disengaged and appliances had been turned over and were blocking a side door.

Deputies had been called at 6:15 a.m. for a report of an intoxicated female who was dropped off in the roadway at 2203 Crystal Way, according to the sheriff’s office.

“There was a intoxicated female who didn’t know where she was; that was how our deputy ended up involved in the situation,” Sgt. Karen Groves of the sheriff’s office said. “Our deputy talked to her, and it turned out she wanted to go home. He transported her back to the house when they found the fire.”

At 7:33 a.m., Crystal Lake police were dispatched to the residence, according to a news release from the Crystal Lake Police Department, which is now leading the investigation.

Officers saw the man lying on the floor and smoke inside, and they eventually broke open the front door but were unable to enter the home because of the excessive heat and smoke, according to the news release.

Firefighters entered and removed Mizell, the sole occupant of the home, and attempted to revive him, according to the news release, before he was transported to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock where he later was pronounced dead.

Both the sheriff’s office and Crystal Lake police said Sunday afternoon that they were interviewing the man’s wife to piece together what happened.

Firefighters extinguished a fire in the basement of the home. By late morning, a member of the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal had arrived to assist in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

“It certainly doesn’t appear it occurred naturally in the home,” Dziewior said.

There were few outward signs of a fire at the home, other than the front window screens taken out and the broken, open front door.

Neighbors said the couple were a blended family and had several children between them, none of whom were home at the time of the incident.

Two Crystal Lake officers and a deputy were treated for smoke inhalation and released at the scene.

The circumstances surrounding the death are being investigated by the Crystal Lake Police Department, Crystal Lake Fire Rescue, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, investigators of the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal and the McHenry County Coroner’s Office.

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