Authorities identify man killed in Flushing blaze

By Alex Robinson

A 63-year-old man who was found dead after a fire broke out in his basement apartment last week has been identified by police as Richard Winckler.

More than 60 firefighters rushed to the 159th Street building in Murray Hill to put out the blaze, which started just before 6 a.m. last Friday, a Fire Department spokesman said.

After the flames were extinguished, police said they found Winckler lying unconscious with severe trauma and burns to his body.

He was rushed to New York Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The city’s medical examiner’s office said Winckler’s death was caused by smoke inhalation and burns to his head and lower extremities. The medical examiner also confirmed that his death was accidental.

The Fire Department has not determined a cause of the fire yet. An FDNY representative said the fire is being considered suspicious as every fire is until a cause is determined.

Neighbors said they did not know how the fire started, but that Winckler was often seen drunk around the building.

A burnt ironing board and other remnants from the fire littered the building’s front yard Friday.

The investigation as to what sparked the fire was still ongoing, the FDNY said.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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