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Man dies in Montgomery County fire
Tuesday, Jan 2, 2007

PALATINE – Montgomery County officials said they are investigating a weekend fire that killed a man in a town of Palatine home that also housed illegal aliens.

The cause of the fire is believed to be accidental, Sheriff Michael Amato said. The Fort Plain, Ephratah, Canajoharie and St. Johnsville fire departments fought the blaze.

The victim was an 18-year-old farm hand, not identified by sheriff’s deputies, who died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation in the fire Sunday at 338 Nellis Road. His name is being withheld until next of kin can be notified.

After the early morning fire, searchers found the man’s body in a crawl space off the bedroom where the fire had started, deputies said.

During the investigation, it was discovered that other farm workers, also occupants of the house, were from Guatemala and were in the country illegally, Amato said.

Mario Chilel, 25, Alejandro Escobar, 33, and Horatio Ovalle, 25, were taken into custody and are being held for U.S. Immigration and Customs officials, Amato said.