Authorities on Sunday were still investigating the death of a man found dead Saturday in a burning wheelchair in southwest Atlanta.
The man’s identity remains a mystery, and investigators are not disclosing details about the cause of the fire and whether it was suspicious until they can identify him, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The unidentified man was found in a ditch in a wooded area between a fastfood restaurant and a Family Dollar store on Metropolitan Avenue. The incident was called in just after 5 p.m., and firefighters at a nearby Kroger grocery store responded within 2 minutes.
Atlanta Fire Rescue Captain Sean Johnson said it was not until firefighters had begun to extinguish the blaze that they realized a person was in the wheelchair. “He was not alive when we extinguished him,” Johnson said.
Johnson said there was no smell of any chemical that might have started the fire. He also would not speculate whether the wheelchair itself could have been the cause.
A wrecker truck was used the pull what remained of the wheelchair from the ditch.
“The body will go to the medical examiner for a full forensic evaluation,” said Atlanta police homicide unit commander Lt. Paul Guerrucci. “Samples of the area where the fire took place will more than likely be sent to the GBI for analysis.”
Guerrucci, however, said police were not calling the fire suspicious.
“We don’t have any information thus far to indicate suspicious circumstances,” he said. The scene, however, was being processed to preserve evidence just in case a different determination is made.
Police did not know why the individual was in the wooded area. They also did not immediately know the man’s age or race. They continued to question witnesses, Guerrucci said.