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Man, 60, dies in fire at Laurelton house

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A 60-year-old handyman was found dead in a home he was watching in Laurelton Monday when police and firefighters responded to a small fire that started on the first floor, authorities said.

Firefighter Vito Berretta said Izekal Dixon was found dead in the bedroom with burns across his body. But while the fire at the house at 136-67 227th St. was not considered suspicious, Berretta said it was unclear exactly what caused the man's death.

Police did not release a home address for Dixon.

Fire officials would not comment on whether smoking in bed was under consideration as a cause of the fire. Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, said the cause of death was still under investigation.

"We don't know whether he died in the fire or of natural causes before the fire," Berretta said. He said an autopsy was to be performed on the victim.

"This was not a very big fire," Berretta added.

The home did not appear severely damaged, said officials who investigated as neighbors looked on Monday afternoon. The only evidence of a fire from the outside was the second-floor windows, which had been blown out.

"We really don't know what happened here," said Battalion Chief Howard Carlson after emerging from the home. "It is too soon to tell."

Berretta said the fire marshal was trying to determine whether a candle or match started the fire or whether it was stemmed from some kind of explosion.

Neighbors on the quiet street said Dixon could often be seen sitting on the front porch. They said he was watching the home, which is owned by a man in nearby Jamaica. They described Dixon as a handyman who would paint and do work on the house.

But they said he apparently had left the virtually vacant home for several months. Rohan Allen said the home was recently renovated and has been up for sale.

"But I saw him bringing groceries there," the neighbor said. "He just sits there all the time."

Most residents said they did not hear a blast or see flames and were only alerted to the fire when they heard the sound of fire-engine sirens on the block. Firefighters and officials remained at the scene for most of the day.

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