Investigators say Hsieh was locked inside a storage shed. “The male is barricaded inside. He's not answering the door. Everyone else is outside the house and trying to get him to open up,” the 911 dispatcher said in a recording.
Firefighters arrived at the scene at 3:26 a.m. They saw dark smoke coming from the back of the home. Rescue crews had to break in through the storage shed to reach the billionaire, but by the time they pulled him out, it was too late.
Hsieh died nine days later in a Connecticut burn center. New London’s fire marshal was on scene Tuesday searching for clues to the Nov. 18 fire, and why Hsieh may have apparently barricaded himself inside. The $1.3 million waterfront home is owned by Rachael Brown, a cellist and former high-level Zappos employee.
Despite his enormous fortune, Hsieh had been living humbly in a 200-square-foot Airstream trailer with his two alpacas. Inside Edition reporter Victoria Recano was a close friend of his for 20 years.
“He was one of the most generous, intelligent, kind, person,” Recano said. “One of the things that he always said—he always wanted to do for everybody— was to make sure that he delivered happiness.”
Recano said the Harvard grad, who made $1.2 billion selling shoes, had very simple values.
“I always laughed because he only had two pairs of shoes,” Recano said. “He never cared about materialistic things at all,” she added.
The coroner's office ruled Hsieh’s death an accident, but there are still a lot of questions about what happened.