Questions surround man’s death

OKEECHOBEE  — An Okeechobee man has died in an Orlando hospital after he suffered third-degree burns over his entire body that were apparently caused by some sort of vapor explosion.

Detective James Pickering, of the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD) said Monday, July 18, that Aneudy Machaca Nazario, 33, was pronounced dead at 4:59 a.m. Monday. Nazario, added the detective, died at the Orlando Regional Burn Center.

The back of this concrete block home at 206 S.E. 11th Ave. sustained heavy smoke damage early Sunday, July 17, and some of the windows were blown out by what is being termed a “vapor explosion.”

The back of this concrete block home at 206 S.E. 11th Ave. sustained heavy smoke damage early Sunday, July 17, and some of the windows were blown out by what is being termed a “vapor explosion.” Courtesy photo/OCPD.

According to Detective Pickering the man received his injuries early Sunday while in a home on S.E. 11th Ave.

An autopsy will be performed by the Orange County Medical Examiner sometime Tuesday, July 19.

“We don’t know at this time why he was there,” said the OCPD investigator.

“There was an explosion, but we don’t know what caused the explosion. He ran about a block then fell out in the middle of the street, where he was found by law enforcement.”

Detective Pickering said his department was notified about the explosion and fire at 2:50 a.m. Sunday, July 17. Nazario, of a N.W. 39th Avenue address, was later airlifted to Orlando by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t know yet if he was in the home alone,” noted Detective Pickering.

Nazario apparently knew the family. However, pointed out the detective, the family was not at home at the time. He said they were out of state on vacation.

“It was definitely arson. The fire was intentional,” offered Chief Herb Smith, of the Okeechobee City Fire Department (OCFD). “The fire was caused by some sort of accelerant and there was a vapor explosion. The damage inside the home is indicative of a vapor explosion.”

It’s not yet known what kind of accelerant was used.

Despite the fire and explosion, Chief Smith said it’s his opinion the home can be salvaged.

The chief said his personnel was on the scene in 4 to 5 minutes, and were dealing with the patient on the street when they learned that the concrete block home was on fire.

“We had the fire under control in about 3 minutes and had it extinguished in about 10 minutes,” Chief Smith added.

The city had two engines and a brush truck at the scene. They were aided by Okeechobee County Fire/Rescue who had a pair of ambulances and one engine there.

The state fire marshal and a K-9 arrived around 5 a.m.

Detective Pickering, who is the lead investigator on the case, said: “The arson is still under investigation and how he (Nazario) made entry into the home is still under investigation.”

The case is under investigation by the police department, the city fire department and the fire marshal’s office.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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