Death of Man Found After MD Fire Investigated as Suspicious

Local and federal authorities returned to the scene of a Maryland townhouse fire to investigate the suspicious death of a man who lived in the basement.

The body of 63-year-old Steven Skalabrin was found in the basement after about 100 firefighters battled the two-alarm fire in Gaithersburg March 29.

“I’m hoping that it was an accident, something that would not have been terribly painful, but I can’t think of anything that would be more painful than to die in a fire,” friend Mike Sudholt told News4.

A task force of investigators from police, fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sifted through charred items Tuesday looking for clues and evidence to better understand what happened.

“We are looking at every possibility at this point,” Montgomery County Police Capt. Darren Franke said.

Skalabrin was a jeweler who made custom pieces. Friends said he had a history of drug abuse but had cleaned up his life and recently been baptized in the Mormon church.

“He was a very kind, gentle person,” Sudholt said.

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Firefighters responded to a report of a deck fire in the 1800 block of Windjammer Way about 10 p.m. March 29, Montgomery County Fire spokesman Pete Piringer said. It quickly spread, and firefighters initially thought it was being fueled by gas.

Two people living on the second-floor of the home got out safely and told firefighters they didn't think the person living on the first-floor was home, officials said. 

Firefighters later found a Skalabrin's body in the debris in the basement. 

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