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Man ID’d in fatal Warsaw home fire

Known to his friends as “Captain Sunshine,” Stephen T. Hall was remembered for his stories after he died in a fire last week.

Hall, 65, who moved to his home on Chapman Lake near Warsaw about eight years ago, was a Vietnam War veteran with plenty of stories to share with anyone who’d sit around and listen, said his close friend Sagan Stier.

“He was kind of a wacky old guy that had a lot of stories to tell,” Stier said. “But he was probably one of my best friends.”

Sheriff’s deputies and five fire departments responded to a call at 10:26 a.m. Jan. 23. When firefighters and emergency personnel arrived, they found Hall’s home at 2147 Chapman Lake Drive in Warsaw fully engulfed in flames.

Two people who were renting part of the home were able to escape without injury.

As firefighters worked to contain the fire, flames spread to a house to the north, melting the home’s siding. No one was injured in the second home.

Stier, who lives about five minutes away from Chapman Lake, said she heard news of the fire and immediately called Hall’s phone.

“I kept calling and calling, but there was no answer, so I knew something had happened,” she said. “He was retired, so he always slept until noon. There’s no way he was awake by 9:30 or 10 in the morning.”

Using X-ray and dental comparisons, forensic investigators determined that the remains found in the home were Hall’s.

Investigators also concluded that Hall had died from smoke inhalation and burns.

Kosciusko County’s Fire Investigation Team determined last week that the fire appeared to have started in the basement of the home, likely from a portable heater being used to thaw frozen water lines.

“Captain Sunshine” was more than just a funny nickname for Hall. It was his way of spreading love for people, animals and the environment, Stier said.

“He started this idea for a ‘Sunshine Club’ after the war. He was drafted, but he was a very peaceful guy, so he didn’t really understand conflict,” Stier said. “… He was just one of those people that you meet and can never let go.”

jcrothers@jg.net

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