Fatal fire confirmed as accident
An accidental fire that started in a house ceiling is believed to have caused the death of Wanaka man Bruce Cochran on Thursday morning.
Police confirmed yesterday that the 53-year-old Albert Town man was the victim.
Detective Sergeant Dave Shaw said a fire investigation and autopsy were completed yesterday. "Police are now satisfied that the initially unexplained death of Mr Cochran is not suspicious and the matter has been referred to the coroner," he said.
Fire risk management officer Michael Cahill said he believed the fire started at the fitting of a downlight in the roof.
"There's a variety of things that could have happened," he said.
"It could be insulation over the unit. It can be the wrong-size bulb.
"It's just one of those things. It's accidental."
Cochran's friend Matt Gunn said he had been told that Cochran, a paraplegic, would not have suffered.
He was found lying in his bed.
Gunn had spoken with Cochran's North Island-based family and understood a funeral would probably be held in Wanaka for the popular and well-known man.
About 150 people gathered at cafe Kai Whaka Pai on Thursday evening to remember the popular Cardrona Alpine Resort ticketer, who was often seen hitch-hiking in his wheelchair.
"In his fitter days, when he lived at Red Bridge, near Luggate, he used to "walk" back home from town," Gunn said.
"He pulled himself in his chair - that's got to be about 15km."
The Southland Times