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Report reveals events prior to death of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 20:34:16-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — 13 Action News has obtained information regarding the fire that resulted in the death of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, 46, in November of 2020 at a residence in New London, Connecticut.

According to the reports, it is possible that Hsieh’s carelessness or intentional acts may have started the fire in the shed where he was found.

ORIGINAL STORY: Tony Hsieh, former Zappos CEO, passes away at 46

A timeline of the events indicate that Hsieh decided to move into a shed attached to the home after a fight with close friend and longtime Zappos employee Rachael Brown between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on Nov. 17.

Shortly before 1 a.m. on Nov. 18, employee Brett Gorman discovered Hsieh had lit a small fire in the shed to keep warm.

Gorman observed that the fire was started by a candle and blanket and brought a portable propane space heater for Hsieh to use.

At around 3:14 a.m., Hsieh could be observed on surveillance video opening the door of the shed and smoke can be seen coming from the shed.

At that time, Hsieh removes the propane heater but then pulls it back inside of the shed. Smoke and burning embers were later observed by fire investigators on the surveillance video. They could also hear the sound of the door to the shed being locked.

A few minutes later, according to the timeline, a limo arrived at the home to pick Hsieh up to take him to the airport for a trip to Maui.

At about 3:20 a.m., Andy Hsieh, Tony Hsieh's brother, goes to the shed and tells Tony it is time to go. Hsieh states “five more minutes.”

Andy Hsieh and Gorman return approximately five minutes later and that’s when they hear hissing from inside the shed. At that point, they knew there was a fire inside and tried to break down the door. When they were unsuccessful, they called for help.

The report indicates that the exact cause of the fire can not be determined.


The report says that is is possible that the portable propane heater came into contact with nearby combustibles resulting in the fire.

The report also says that is possible that carelessly discarded smoking material (either cigarettes or marijuana) were the cause. Several cigarettes and a marijuana pipe were found in the area of origin.

Additionally, there were indications that Hsieh set the fire intentionally. Fire investigators found a plastic bag and a basket containing burned paper.

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Fire investigators also believe that Hsieh could have been impaired or intoxicated at the time of the fire. In and around where Hsieh was found were several Whip-It brand nitrous oxide chargers and a whipping cream dispenser, a marijuana pipe, and Fernet Branca liquor bottles.

Currently, the fire is still classified as undetermined until such time as additional evidence or information is learned.


Hsieh died a little over a week later at a hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

His death came just months after he stepped down from Zappos. After his “retirement,” he moved to Park City, Utah, and began purchasing multiple properties.

RELATED: Tony Hsieh out as CEO of shoe and clothing giant Zappos

According to previous reports, police in Park City, Utah, conducted welfare checks twice in August.

They also responded to several disturbance calls in September.

Hsieh frequently held large parties in Park City, one of which was attended by the singer Jewel.

After the party, Jewel sent Hsieh a letter about his self-destructive behavior.

RELATED: Artist Jewel says she 'lost dear friend Tony Hsieh'

Hsieh, who poured millions of dollars into the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas, died without a will.

A judge named Hsieh’s father and brother as special administrators of his estate last month.

His estimated net worth at the time of his death was hundreds of millions of dollars.