CENTRAL ISLIP - Suffolk detectives say an early morning fire killed a homeless man who was seeking shelter in the basement of a vacant Central Islip home.
According to officials, a passing motorist called 911 at 5:05 a.m. to report a fire on Sycamore Street.
Firefighters were unable to enter the home due to intense fire and smoke conditions. Officials say the body of a man was found in the basement when the fire was extinguished.
Police have not identified the victim, but neighbors say his name was Mauricio. They say he was a well-respected man who was squatting in the vacant house, and was known for taking care of other local homeless people.
There was no electricity in the home at the time of the fire, and investigators say it's still unclear what caused the flames to spark.
Police say the cause of death has not been positively identified, although it appears he could have died from burns and smoke inhalation.
Anyone with information is being urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.