A man who died in a house fire west of Cheney earlier this week was the brother of the property’s owner.
Ralph Pickel, 68, was found Tuesday morning in the charred remains of a home at 16909 S. Graham Road, about 1 mile east of the Salnave Road exit on Interstate 90. His brother Timothy Pickel, who died in 2011, according to an obituary, is still listed as the owner of the 20-acre plot, according to records from the County Assessor’s Office.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner said Pickel died from smoke inhalation, with burns as a contributing factor. The manner of death is pending until a cause of the fire is determined.
Cody Rohrbach, fire chief of Spokane County Fire District 3, said investigators are still working to determine how the fire started. It was first reported at about 6:40 a.m. by a driver on Graham Road who noticed smoke and flames.
The fire was suppressed about two hours later, which is when firefighters found the body.
The Spokane Valley Fire Department is assisting with the investigation.
Timothy Pickel died at 57 from natural causes, according to the obituary.
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