Former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh died last year, after reportedly locking himself inside a backyard shed with alcohol and nitrous oxide cartridges minutes before he was discovered unconscious due to smoke inhalation. Per NBC News, the New London Fire Department in Connecticut says Hsieh was surrounded by bottles of liquor, a pipe for marijuana, nitrous oxide cartridges, and a whipped cream dispenser when he was found unconscious.
The cause of death was initially not revealed, and fire investigators say that it's unclear if "carelessness or even an intentional act by Hsieh" contributed to the fatal fire. Investigators added that the drugs and alcohol could indicate that the 46-year-old was intoxicated at the time the fire started, which could be why he succumbed to smoke inhalation. The medical examiner's officer in Connecticut has ruled his death as accidental, as he died nine days after the fire due to complications of smoke inhalation.
Shortly after Hsieh's death, the Wall Street Journal was among the outlets to report that Hsieh's friends were concerned over his alcohol and drug use before his death. He allegedly took part in the use of "whippets," in which the user inhales nitrous oxide cartridges through a whipped cream container. Hsieh reportedly went into the shed and locked himself inside after he had an argument with a former Zappos executive, who was the owner of the property where the fire took place. He was staying there at the time with his younger brother Andrew, and they were scheduled to go on a trip to Hawaii the next day.
It is believed that the fire could have started through a misuse of candles, a portable heater, or a discarded cigarette.