Police probe barn fire, death in Oneonta

Julie Lewis | The Daily Star Investigators are seen Tuesday at the remains of a barn that burned Monday night on Riverstone Road off of county Route 58 in the town of Oneonta.

Police are investigating a death and a fire in the town of Oneonta.

A man was found dead at the scene of a barn fire at 130 Riverstone Road late Monday night, Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin confirmed Tuesday. Members of the Oneonta Fire Department found the man within another structure on the property, according to a media release by the Otsego County Sheriff's Department. 

Devlin said the man was dead at the scene, but did not die in the fire. Otsego County Coroner Terry Knapp is overseeing that portion of the investigation, Devlin said.

Knapp said he arrived at the scene around 2 a.m. He said he was able to determine a cause of death from initial examination, but an autopsy is needed to verify this. The autopsy will occur Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, Knapp said.

When asked if the man lived at the residence, Devlin said “to the best of my knowledge, he did.”

The Oneonta Fire Department responded to the fire around 11:15 p.m., Oneonta Fire Department Captain Michael Mancini said.

The Otsego County Sheriff's Office is investigating the fire and death, according to the release. The Oneonta Fire Department, the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Otsego County Highway Department and New York State Electric and Gas are assisting in the investigation.

A death investigation, which is not attributed to the fire, is being conducted at 130 Riverstone Road, Devlin said.

“It's part of the investigation, but the person did not die in the fire,” Devlin said.

Devlin said four horses and a dog were rescued from the scene and sent to the Susquehanna SPCA in Hyde Park.

SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes said Otsego County 911 called her around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday requesting help. 

"They said there's an emergency, there's a barn fire in Oneonta and it's not safe for the animals to remain on scene," Haynes said. 

Hunter's Rein Stable in Otego brought a horse trailer at 1 a.m. to transport the horses from the property to the shelter, she said. All five animals are being fostered by a friend of their owner, Haynes said. 

After a checkup, which revealed no injuries, the animals left the SQSPCA around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Haynes said. 

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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