Fatal fire victim battled earlier blaze with beer

A witness reported that a man tried to douse a small fire outside of his camper by pouring beer on it, moments before the camper itself burned in a fire that killed the man, according to the Grand Junction Police Department.

As of Thursday, however, the cause of the fire that killed 48-year-old David F. Johnson was undetermined.

Alcohol intoxication was a contributing factor in Johnson’s death, the Mesa County Coroner’s Office said. Johnson died of smoke and soot inhalation in what has been ruled an accident. An autopsy showed Johnson’s blood-alcohol level was 0.326 percent, more than four times Colorado’s legal limit for driving, the coroner said.

Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras said Johnson had been living out of the camper mounted on his Dodge pickup and using the parking lot behind Dollar Tree, 2531 Rimrock Ave., on an occasional basis recently.

Johnson was regularly seen “flying signs,” asking for money around the Rimrock Marketplace complex, according to a Coroner’s Office news release.

Police and firefighters were called to the parking lot, where the camper fire was reported by multiple witnesses, around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Johnson’s badly burned body was pulled from the camper after the intense fire, which left little evidence, the authorities said.

Dental records were used to make positive identification.


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