BERLIN — A local man perished this week when his vehicle caught fire and became engulfed in flames near his residence on Racetrack Rd. early Sunday morning.
Around 2:15 a.m. on Sunday, the Ocean Pines Fire Department was dispatched to a reported vehicle fire with entrapment on Racetrack Rd.
Upon arrival, firefighters observed the vehicle was completely involved in flames and the blaze had spread to the residence nearby. The Ocean Pines Fire Department quickly extinguished the fire, with support from firefighting crews from Berlin and Showell, and the adjacent residence suffered only minor damage.
However, further investigation revealed the remains of a single male occupant in the vehicle. Investigators from the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI), along with the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Maryland State Police Crime Lab, responded to the scene to conduct an investigation. As a result of the fire, a positive identification was unable to be made initially and the body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
Late yesterday, WCBI reported the deceased had been identified as Brian Paul Wickes, 62, of Berlin, who lived at the residence adjacent to where the fire occurred. According to the WCBI release, there are no indications of any criminal element involved and the death will likely be attributed to mental illness.
The Medical Examiner’s Office earlier yesterday confirmed Wickes had been brought in and that the results of the autopsy were still pending.
One source close to the situation said the vehicle fire was reportedly caused by a smoldering cigarette and the fire accelerated when fueled by a burst of oxygen when the deceased attempted to open the door of the vehicle. However, the investigation is ongoing and no official determination of the cause of the fire or the cause of death has been announced.
Meanwhile, a memorial service is planned for Wickes, also known as “Rocky” to many in the West Ocean City area, for this afternoon, Friday, July 1, at the Greene Turtle in West Ocean City from noon to 3 p.m.