Online shoe magnate Tony Hsieh was barricaded inside a shed when the blaze that took his life broke out, according to the fire department dispatch tape obtained by DailyMail.com
And though it only took firefighters minutes to break down the door and drag him out, it was too late to save him.
‘One victim being pulled from the fire now — unresponsive,’ a firefighter says just eight and a half minutes into the call. The fire was reported as under control moments later.
Hsieh clung to life for another nine days before succumbing to his injuries. His death has now been ruled an accident. The medical examiner said the cause of death was smoke inhalation.
The fire broke out around 3:30 am on November 18 at a $1.3 million waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, where Hsieh, former CEO of the giant Zappos empire and his brother had been staying.
The home was bought by long-time Zappos employee Rachael Brown in July.
Hsieh, 46, was originally taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London before being airlifted to a hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where died on the day after Thanksgiving.
Online shoe magnate Tony Hsieh was barricaded inside a storage area when the blaze that took his life broke out, according to the fire department dispatch tape obtained by DailyMail.com
And though it only took firefighters minutes to break down the door and drag him out, it was too late to save him. ‘One victim being pulled from the fire now — unresponsive,’ a firefighter says just eight and a half minutes into the call. The fire was reported as under control moments later
The dispatcher says the fire is in ‘a shed that is attached to the exterior of the house. The male is barricaded inside and not answering the door’. She adds: ‘Everyone else is outside the house. They are trying to get him to open up’
Firefighters are heard on the tape saying that damage to the rest of the three-story wood frame house was ‘negative’
Hsieh, 46, was originally taken to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London before being airlifted to a hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where died on the day after Thanksgiving
The fire broke out around 3:30 am on November 18 at a $1.3 million waterfront home in New London, Connecticut, where Hsieh, former CEO of the giant Zappos empire and his brother had been staying
Firefighters are heard on the tape saying that damage to the rest of the three-story wood frame house was ‘negative.’
A second man at the scene, identified as Anthony Hebert declined treatment for a hand injury. The local Fox station identified Hebert, 36, as Hsieh’s assistant. He told the channel that Hsieh was visiting family and his ‘soulmate’ in New London but did not elaborate further.
The tape starts with the dispatcher saying ‘One person barricaded inside of a room. She then gives the address on Pequot Avenue and adds ‘For a fire inside of a house.’.
A short while later she says the fire is in ‘a shed that is attached to the exterior of the house.
‘The male is barricaded inside and not answering the door,’ she adds.
‘Everyone else is outside the house. They are trying to get him to open up.’
New London Fire Captain Brian Wright said Monday in a statement: ‘Upon arrival on the scene, emergency services personnel observed dark smoke emanating from the back of the residential structure.
‘Individuals at the scene informed emergency personnel that a man, who was later identified as Anthony Hsieh, DOB 12/12/1973, was locked inside a storage area where smoke was coming out at the rear of the residence, and they were unable to get him out. Emergency personnel breached the storage area door, retrieved the victim.’
Fire Chief Curcio told the New London paper The Day that firefighters had to ‘force entry’ to the home after they were told someone was trapped inside. ‘They removed the victim, started CPR and transported him to the hospital,’ said Curcio.
Details as to why Hsieh was barricaded inside the storage area are still unclear. DailyMail.com reported on Monday that the rest of the five-bed, four-bath house, which overlooks the point where the Thames River empties into Long Island Sound, was undamaged.
‘There was very little damage,’ a man answering the door told DailyMail.com before referring all other inquiries to Hsieh’s personal attorney, Puoy Premsirut who did not respond to a list of questions about his death.
Megan Fazio, a spokeswoman for Hsieh’s company later said that she would not comment on Hsieh’s ‘personal matters.’
The home is owned by Rachael Brown (pictured with Hsieh), a former employee at Las Vegas-based Zappos, who, according to the company website, rose from a temporary phone representative to being a critical member of the management team
The property (shown before the fire, left, and after, right), which overlooks Long Island Sound, showed no sign of damage after the deadly blaze
Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3:30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property. CPR was administered at the scene
Despite his immense wealth, Hsieh was known for living in an Airstream trailer in downtown Las Vegas. Pictured: Inside the tiny trailer Hsieh lived in, despite his $840 million fortune
‘We are not providing any interviews at this time to give those who just lost a friend and family member their very necessary time and privacy to grieve, and we are not at liberty to discuss anything further than the statement we provided as the investigation of the fire as it is still ongoing, and it would be speculative to comment on matters under investigation,’ Fazio added.
When it was listed over the summer, the house was described as ‘polished’ with ‘year-round waterfront beach glamour’ and ‘boasting luxurious interior and exterior spaces.’ Realtor Bobbi McBride Doyen pointed out its many ‘smart’ electronic features
‘The coolness factor, as well as the glimmering water view of the 3rd floor crow’s nest bedroom hideaway, is something to be experienced,’ the realtor gushed, adding that even the ‘epoxied garage floor is worthy of a car dealership showroom with a ‘smart’ garage door.’
Brown sold her home in Henderson, Nevada, in May for a little over $300,000, records show, and spent $1.3 million on the three-story New London house. The sale was completed on July 30, less than a month before Hsieh quit the company he had founded and which he sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal called Brown ‘one of Hsieh’s closest confidantes.’ It also said she is a cellist, well-known in the city’s arts circles.
She was part of the Vegas Golden Strings lineup that backed Imagine Dragons on Whatever It Takes before Game 2 of the NHL Final in 2018.
Amazon owner Jeff Bezos paid tribute to a brilliant mind. ‘The world lost you way too soon,’ he wrote. ‘Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace’
Ivanka Trump, who previously had a shoe line sold on Zappos, was among those paying tribute to Hsieh (pictured together), who she worked with through her fashion business
‘Celebrating the life while mourning the loss of my dear friend Tony Hsieh,’ she wrote. ‘Tony was a deeply original thinker always challenging me to reject conformity & follow my heart. Tony was driven by the mission of delivering happiness & brought joy to all who knew him’
Hsieh was the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who met as graduate students at the University of Illinois. He sold his first company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million when he was just 22. He then founded Venture Frogs which in 1999 invested in Zappos — named from Zapatos, Spanish for shoes — and he took over as CEO.
He sold the company to Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion, but continued as CEO. He was worth an estimated $840 million yet lived in an Airstream trailer in Las Vegas. He had a passion for llamas and alpacas and the area he lived in in Vegas became known as Llamapolis.
But he suddenly quit Zappos after leading the company for two decades and said he would relocate to Park City, Utah.
Hsieh was known as an iconoclastic boss. One of his schemes was to offer $1,000 for every year served up to a maximum of $5,000 for any employee who wanted to leave. He believed that if they no longer had the passion to want to work for him it was better to pay them to quit.
He was also known for his visionary transformation of parts of Las Vegas that had suffered in the shadow of The Strip. He lent money he had received from Amazon to help small businesses build up areas of the city.
‘Tony Hsieh’s vision and generosity made Las Vegas more exciting, more vibrant, and more of a community,’ said Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, whose congressional district covers downtown.
And one-time venture investor Chris Sacca said in a tweet: ‘Tony Hsieh might be the most original thinker I’ve ever been friends with. He questioned every assumption and shared everything he learned along the way. He genuinely delighted in making anyone and everyone happy.’