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Home News Ex-Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was trapped in a storage room before dying of smoke inhalation

Ex-Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was trapped in a storage room before dying of smoke inhalation

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Ex-Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was trapped in a storage room before dying of smoke inhalation

REVEALED: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was trapped in a storage room before dying of smoke inhalation after fire broke out in basement of a Connecticut home

  • Tony Hsieh, 46, died on Friday just nine days after he was pulled unresponsive from a house fire in Connecticut on November 18
  • Hsieh’s death has been ruled an accident and medical examiners determined that he died as a result of complications brought on by smoke inhalation 
  • First responders arrived on the scene to find dark smoke coming out the back of the home, with Hsieh reportedly stuck in a storage area and couldn’t get out 
  • The cause of the fire remains under investigation, however officials said the blaze appeared to be in the basement of the home
  • The property showed no sign of damage after the deadly blaze
  • As exclusively revealed by DailyMail.com, the modest 3,100 sq. ft. home is owned by Rachael Brown, a former employee at Las Vegas-based Zappos 

Tony Hsieh, 46, died on Friday just nine days after he was pulled unresponsive from a house fire in Connecticut on November 18

Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh died from complications of smoke inhalation sustained during a house fire in Connecticut last month, medical examiners determined Monday.

The 46-year-old’s death has been ruled an accident by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, according to the Hartford-Courant.

The entrepreneur died on Friday, nine days after he was rescued from a blazing home in New London in the early hours of November 18.

The New London police department said emergency workers arrived at the scene to find dark smoke coming out from the back of the house, and that Hsieh was stuck in a storage area and couldn’t get out.

Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3:30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property. CPR was administered at the scene.

First responders initially took Hsieh to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital but he was later transferred by Life Star helicopter to Bridgeport Hospital, home of the Connecticut Burn Center, where he later died surrounded by family.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, however officials said the blaze appeared to be in the basement of the home.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, however officials said the blaze appeared to be in the basement of the home

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, however officials said the blaze appeared to be in the basement of the home 

Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3:30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property. CPR was administered at the scene

Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3:30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property. CPR was administered at the scene 

The property, which overlooks Long Island Sound, showed no sign of damage after the deadly blaze.

As exclusively revealed by DailyMail.com, the modest 3,100 sq. ft. home is owned by Rachael Brown, a former employee at Las Vegas-based Zappos, who, according to the company website, rose from a temporary phone representative to being a critical member of the management team.

‘There was very little damage,’ a man answering the door told DailyMail.com before referring all other inquiries to Hsieh’s personal attorney. 

‘She’s dealing with everything. We want it all to come from one voice,’ the man added. ‘We’re having a tough day today.’

It is not known if Brown, 47, was at the house when the blaze broke out. However, it was reported that Hsieh’s brother was there at the time.

Brown sold her home in Henderson, Nevada, in May for a little over $300,000, records show, and spent $1.3 million on the three-story New London house, which is less than half a mile down the street from playwright Eugene O’Neill’s childhood home.

The sale was completed on July 30, less than a month before Hsieh quit the company and which he sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009, DailyMail.com previously reported.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal called Brown ‘one of Hsieh’s closest confidantes’. It also said she is a cellist, well-known in the city’s arts circles.

She was part of the Vegas Golden Strings lineup that backed Imagine Dragons on Whatever It Takes before Game 2 of the NHL Final in 2018.

The home is owned by Rachael Brown (pictured with Hsieh), a former employee at Las Vegas-based Zappos, who, according to the company website, rose from a temporary phone representative to being a critical member of the management team

The home is owned by Rachael Brown (pictured with Hsieh), a former employee at Las Vegas-based Zappos, who, according to the company website, rose from a temporary phone representative to being a critical member of the management team

Before the fire

After the fire

The property (shown before the fire, left, and after, right), which overlooks Long Island Sound, showed no sign of damage after the deadly blaze

Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3:30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property. CPR was administered at the scene

Firefighters broke their way in shortly after 3:30am and pulled an unresponsive Hsieh from the property. CPR was administered at the scene 

Hsieh was the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who met as graduate students at the University of Illinois. He sold his first company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 million when he was just 22.

He then founded Venture Frogs which in 1999 invested in Zappos — named from Zapatos, Spanish for shoes — and he took over as CEO.

He was worth an estimated $840 million yet lived in an Airstream trailer in Las Vegas. He had a passion for llamas and alpacas and owned a pet alpaca named Marley.

The area he lived in in Vegas became known as Llamapolis. After leaving Zappos he said he would relocate to Park City, Utah.

Hsieh was known as an iconoclastic boss. One of his schemes was to offer $1,000 for every year served up to a maximum of $5,000 for any employee who wanted to leave. He believed that if they no longer had the passion to want to work for him it was better to pay them to quit.

Despite his immense wealth, Hsieh was known for living in an Airstream trailer in downtown Las Vegas. Pictured: Inside the tiny trailer Hsieh lived in, despite his $840 million fortune

Despite his immense wealth, Hsieh was known for living in an Airstream trailer in downtown Las Vegas. Pictured: Inside the tiny trailer Hsieh lived in, despite his $840 million fortune 

While Hsieh became known for his business acumen, it was his philanthropy and his focus on fostering a positive workplace culture for which he is now being remembered.

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos paid tribute to a brilliant mind.

‘The world lost you way too soon,’ he wrote.

‘Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace.’

Ivanka Trump, who previously had a shoe line sold on Zappos, was also among those paying tribute to Hsieh, who she worked with through her fashion business.

‘Celebrating the life while mourning the loss of my dear friend Tony Hsieh,’ she wrote.

‘Tony was a deeply original thinker always challenging me to reject conformity & follow my heart. Tony was driven by the mission of delivering happiness & brought joy to all who knew him.’

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos paid tribute to a brilliant mind. 'The world lost you way too soon,' he wrote. 'Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace'

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos paid tribute to a brilliant mind. ‘The world lost you way too soon,’ he wrote. ‘Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark. You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace’

Ivanka Trump, who previously had a shoe line sold on Zappos, was among those paying tribute to Hsieh (pictured together), who she worked with through her fashion business

Ivanka Trump, who previously had a shoe line sold on Zappos, was among those paying tribute to Hsieh (pictured together), who she worked with through her fashion business 

'Celebrating the life while mourning the loss of my dear friend Tony Hsieh,' she wrote. 'Tony was a deeply original thinker always challenging me to reject conformity & follow my heart. Tony was driven by the mission of delivering happiness & brought joy to all who knew him'

‘Celebrating the life while mourning the loss of my dear friend Tony Hsieh,’ she wrote. ‘Tony was a deeply original thinker always challenging me to reject conformity & follow my heart. Tony was driven by the mission of delivering happiness & brought joy to all who knew him’ 

For years, Hsieh worked to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, pledging $350 million in 2013 for redevelopment. The same year he moved Zappos’ headquarters into the former Las Vegas City Hall building.

‘Tony Hsieh played a pivotal role in helping transform Downtown Las Vegas,’ Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tweeted Friday night.

Sin City mayor Carolyn Goodman added: ‘What a tragic loss. Tony Hsieh meant so much to Las Vegas. He was always dreaming, working to inspire and leading others to create a new vision for tomorrow.’

A wave of other tributes have also poured in on social media.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang said on Saturday morning: ‘I am stunned. Tony Hsieh touched so many lives and inspired so many entrepreneurs.

‘His impact and legacy will go on and on. I met his family in Las Vegas – and am thinking of them today. RIP Tony. You will be missed.’

Skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk added: ‘Tony Hsieh was a visionary. He was generous with his time and willing to share his invaluable expertise with anyone.’

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