A man has been found dead at the scene of a fire on Route 28 in Shokan that forced the closing of Route 28, and drew hundreds of police and first responders, on Tuesday afternoon.
According to a statement released by New York State Police late Tuesday evening, 48-year-old Brett Sirois was found dead in a pick-up truck near a barn at 3358 Route 28. Both the truck and the barn were consumed by fire during a blaze that started around 3:45pm.
As local fire companies responded to the fire, shots were heard from the property, possibly from exploding ammunition that had been stored in the burning barn. Steve Fuller, assistant chief of the Olive Fire Department, told the Watershed Post that firefighters were initially warned to stay away from the scene by county police because shots had been fired.
State police say Sirois was found with a rifle, a handgun and numerous rounds of ammunition in the truck where he died. Police say there was also a large amount of ammunition in the barn, which exploded during the fire.
According to the NYSP's statement, no evidence was found to indicate that Sirois fired on first responders as they arrived at the scene, or on anyone else.
Police describe Sirois's death as an "apparent suicide," but have not released the exact cause of death.
Fuller told the Watershed Post that because first responders could not immediately approach the property to shut off electrical power, Central Hudson shut down power to the entire area, for the safety of firefighters battling the blaze. Late on Tuesday afternoon, Central Hudson's outage map showed 1,157 homes without power in the Olive area. By the time of this posting -- 11pm -- Central Hudson was not reporting any power outages in the area.
According to Ulster County property records, Sirois was the owner of the property.
A reporter from the Daily Freeman spoke to Lieutenant Paul Hogan of the New York State Police, who said that Sirois's father had alerted authorities that his son was suicidal:
State police Lt. Paul Hogan said authorities went to the home of Brett Sirois after the Olive resident’s father told them his son was possibly suicidal. When emergency responders arrived, they found a barn near the home was on fire, Hogan said.
Responding to the scene were New York State Police, Town of Olive Police Department, The New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, DEP and Ulster County emergency service units, fire departments from Olive, West Hurley and Phoenicia, Olive First Aid, the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, the Ulster County Fire Investigation Team, the Ulster County Emergency Services Coordinator and forest rangers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The incident is still under investigation.