UPDATE - Victim identified in van fire near Ozark
UPDATE - 1:20 p.m.
Ozark Police have identified 61-year-old Ace draper from Ozark as the victim in a fatal van fire in Ozark on Wednesday. After conducting an investigation, police are ruling it an accidental death.
Police responded to reports of a vehicle on fire on Wednesday on County Road 5. Shortly after firefighters put out the fire, police discovered a burned body inside the van.
The body was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy. The results indicated smoke inhalation as the primary cause of death.
Investigators found several items at the scene that indicated Draper had been working on the vehicle. Witnesses said Draper was experiencing trouble with the van earlier in the day.
Other witnesses told police Draper had recently bought gas due to mechanical issues. Interviews with friends, family and other people in the area that supported other witness statements.
The Dale County Sheriff's Office, 33rd Judicial District Attorney's Office, State of Alabama Fire Marshal Office, State Bureau of Investigation and Marley Mill Volunteer Fire Department assisted the Ozark Police during the investigation.
On Wednesday at approximately 9:00 am E-911 received a call in reference to a vehicle fire on County Road 5 near Ozark. Both Ozark Police Department and Marley Mill Volunteer Fire were dispatched to the area.
Once emergency personnel arrived on scene they came into contact with an older model van that was fully engulfed in flames. Several moments later fire personnel were able to extinguished the fire and give law enforcement an opportunity to examine the possible cause of the incident.
It was at this time that emergency personnel located an unknown white male who appeared to have been fatally burned in the vehicle fire. Authorities have not been able to determine a positive identification of the victim.
The remains of the victim have been sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science for further investigation into the cause of death and to assist with positive identification.
Law enforcement officials are interviewing several people from the area of the fire and they are asking anyone with any information related to this incident please contact the Ozark Police Department at 334-774¬2644.
This case is still under investigation by the Ozark Police Department. Special thanks to agencies that are assisting in this investigation:
Dale County Sheriff Office
State of Alabama Fire Marshal Office
State Bureau of Investigation (SBI)
Marley Mill Volunteer Fire Department