LITCHFIELD — A Litchfield man who was a registered sex offender was found dead on Thursday following a shed fire in a quiet mobile home park.
Authorities say Dwaine High, 55, of Litchfield, was found dead on Thursday after being located inside of a shed that was engulfed in flames. The shed, housed behind lot No. 26 at 31 Page Rd., was destroyed in the blaze, and two nearby mobile home units received smoke, heat and water damage.
High, who was renting the mobile home from Michael Brodeur, is listed as a registered sex offender in Hillsborough County.
High, formerly of Newbury, was convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault in 1991, and attempted felonious sexual assault in 1978, according to his criminal record posted online.
Deputy New Hampshire Fire Marshal Robert Farley said he was unsure what High, whose name was withheld until late Friday afternoon, was doing inside the large shed when the fire ignited and added that investigators are trying to determine what was taking place inside the structure.
There was a small workshop area in the shed, which also stored a snowblower and other typical household lawn and garden tools, according to Farley.
Farley said there is no reason to believe that High was dead prior to the explosion or fire. Fire officials have not yet determined whether the explosion caused the fire, or whether it was a subsequent result of the blaze.
An autopsy was conducted on High Friday morning, although his official cause of death was not released as of Friday evening.
Interviews with neighbors are ongoing, said Farley, adding officials are trying to find out whether anything was out of the ordinary prior to the blaze.
Police Chief Joseph O'Brion said his department is assisting in the investigation, trying to determine if any foul play or criminal activity may have been involved.
O'Brion said he is waiting until the cause of the fire is determined, along with the autopsy results, which will both help guide the investigation.
"It is a nice little community. Everyone is very friendly there," O'Brion said of the mobile home park, adding counseling will be offered to the victim's family if necessary.
Brodeur, the owner of the mobile home at unit No. 26, was at the site on Friday morning trying to clean up items inside of the damaged residence, which is temporarily uninhabitable.
"I don't know much either. I am waiting to hear from the fire marshal," he said.
A cleanup and restoration crew was at the scene on Friday speaking with occupants of the two damaged mobile homes, as relatives helped the residents collect items and clean up some of the mess.
The charred shed was between the two residences was destroyed.
According to a release, the Litchfield Fire Department arrived for a reported shed fire and witnessed a fully involved structure fire around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday at the mobile home park.
"Upon their initial investigation into the fire, local investigators observed a deceased male in the shed and immediately summoned the New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office," the release states.
A separate release issued late Friday afternoon said the origin and cause of the fire is still being investigated.
The small, typically quiet mobile home community faced a separate death nearly one year ago when a police officer shot and killed a park resident, Jason Lagueux, who was firing a gun outside of his mobile home.
Authorities determined the shooting, by State Police Trooper First Class Thomas Lencki, was justified after Lagueux repeatedly refused to drop his loaded pistol.