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Over 100 false calls highlighted in fatal Conn. house fire

False reports of fires, acts of violence and hoarding plagued a home in Hebron


Hebron Fire Department/Facebook

Journal Inquirer

HEBRON, Conn. — “We knew something bad was going to happen, we just didn’t know it would be this bad,” said Town Manager Andrew Tierney, who added that when he saw the initial 911 call for the fire early Saturday he thought it was another false alarm.

Tierney said the previous 911 calls included false reports of fires and Colchester officials sent him a letter indicating they would no longer provide mutual aid on calls to the Hope Valley Road home.

Neighbors had also expressed concern for their safety, Tierney said.

In August, Hoffman, 22, was arrested on charges of first-degree criminal trespass, second-degree threatening and breach of peace. He was accused of threatening to kill a neighbor and their dog, state police said. Neighbors told state police at the time they didn’t feel safe around him, according to his arrest affidavit.

Hoffman had triggered a neighbor’s security camera on the afternoon of Aug. 20 and was walking around the person’s property, according to a police report.

One neighbor told police “that these are ongoing issues” and he was “extremely concerned of how frequent it has become,” documents show.

Another neighbor told police Hoffman had driven toward her in a vehicle and yelled out the window, threatening to kill her, police said. Hoffman later returned and threatened to kill the woman’s dog and drive her from the neighborhood “like I have done with everyone else,” the resident told troopers, according to the documents.

During one of the dozens of visits officials made to the home this year, Tierney said the town fire marshal, who was investigating a hoarding report, discovered an area that needed to be cleared to allow for a second way out of the residence. Tierney said one of the residents used that area to escape the fire.

“It saved his life,” Tierney said.

Officials have not provided an update on the conditions of the two people who escaped the fire.

Firefighters responded to the house fire around 12:05 a.m. Saturday, according to Hebron Fire Chief Peter Starkel. He said it took about 45 minutes to extinguish. But the home was a total loss. Caution tape remained up Wednesday, blocking off the property where charred vehicles were parked in front of the pile of rubble.

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