20-05-08

San Jose Mercury News

San Jose fire officials name man killed in blaze at The Villages senior complexBy Lisa Fernandez and Dana Hull
Mercury News
Article Launched: 05/19/2008 08:55:17 AM PDTA 69-year-old man died in a four-alarm blaze Sunday at a tony San Jose condominium complex geared for seniors, and fire officials said today that the blaze started in the victim's unit. San Jose Fire Capt. Craig Schwinge said Harold Leroy Menagh, who lived alone at 5032 Cribari Vale, died in the fire, which was reported about 11:30 a.m. Sunday. His family lives out of state, Schwinge said, and had to be notified before the coroner could identify him.Menagh, according to neighbors, hadn't lived long at the gated senior community called, The Villages Golf & Country Club. "I didn't know him very well," said Brad Hinckley, 67, a resident of The Villages and a volunteer for the community's emergency disaster preparedness committee. Fire investigators don't know what caused the fire. But Schwinge said the blaze originated from Menagh's bottom unit. He added there is no evidence of foul play. Menagh suffered some smoke inhalation, Schwinge said, and a full toxicology report determining how he died will likely take a month. Menagh's body wasn't found until about 10 p.m. Sunday. Originally, firefighters said they believed everyone who lived in the condominiums was safe or accounted for. They made that determination, in part, because Menagh's car was not in its usual parking space. And so, Schwinge said, neighbors and rescue crews believed he was safely out of his home. Schwinge said he has no idea where Menagh's car is now, or what it looks like, either. It wasn't until late Sunday night when firefighters did an "overhaul" of the area, checking for hot spots, when they found Menagh's body. The surviving residents of the destroyed complex either went to stay at relatives' homes, or are staying in some of the unoccupied rental units at The Villages. Beverly Faraj, 69, can see the charred condominiums from her home across the way on the same street. Her unit suffered water damage from the fire."They hosed down my house to keep it from burning," she said. Today, she's watched as fire inspectors and insurance adjusters have been active on site, but she learned of Menagh's death from her daughter, who got the news from the media."They haven't told us anything," Faraj said, "Mum is the word." She said her friend lived next door to Menagh and had smelled smoke Sunday morning before she went grocery shopping. When her friend arrived back home, her unit was in flames. Her son came by to pick her up. Faraj said there's nothing left for her friend to come back to.

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