TRAVERSE CITY — Cluttered conditions inside a Garfield Township mobile home made it impossible to determine what sparked a fatal fire, authorities said.
John David Norberg, 50, was found dead Oct. 11 after firefighters extinguished a blaze that consumed half his mobile home inside the Cherryland Mobile Home Park off Garfield Road. Preliminary autopsy results indicate he died from smoke inhalation, said Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department Lt. Bryan Marrow.
"There's no sign of foul play," Marrow said.
Neighbors and investigators alike described Norberg as a "pack rat" or a "hoarder" whose living room was stacked with items he collected. Metro Fire Department Assistant Chief Terry Flynn said investigators listed the fire's cause as accidental or undetermined, but Norberg's cigarette smoking and mobile home's poor electrical wiring may have contributed.
"They can't rule out anything because of the mess," he said. "It was so burned and there were so many things that pointed to an area where it started ... . Because they couldn't rule out some things that's why it's undetermined."
Flynn said investigators don't know if Norberg tried to leave, but said his escape routes were blocked. Investigators found a side door couldn't be opened because it was packed with items and a path to the front door was engulfed by flames.
"(At) the front door there was no way for him to get out," Flynn said.
Norberg's body was found in the back bedroom.