Neighbors, friends remember Niles man who died in garage fire

Leader photos/CRAIG HAUPERT Mary Dockey and Brad Englehart stand in the driveway of Denis Frame’s home Wednesday morning after a fire destroyed the detached garage. Frame was found dead of smoke inhalation inside the garage Tuesday night.

Leader photos/CRAIG HAUPERT
Mary Dockey and Brad Englehart stand in the driveway of Denis Frame’s home Wednesday morning after a fire destroyed the detached garage. Frame was found dead of smoke inhalation inside the garage Tuesday night.

A Niles man who died in a garage fire Tuesday night is being described as a “perfect neighbor” who loved riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle, fishing, taking care of his yard and rooting for University of Michigan athletics.

Denis Frame, 52, was found dead inside a detached two-car garage behind his home at 2434 Rebecca Lane in Niles Township at approximately 6 p.m., according to Chief Gary Brovold, of the Niles Township Fire Department.

The cause remains undetermined and is not thought to be suspicious.

Chris Eull, one of Frame’s close friends, said he went to school with Frame at Brandywine High School and that Frame graduated in either 1981 or ‘82.

“It still hasn’t really set in. I’m having a tough time with it,” said Eull, one of many people who came to Frame’s home the morning after the fire.

“Denis is just an easygoing guy. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Eull, adding that Frame liked to hang out with his friends, ride his motorcycle and fish. “I’ll miss everything about him in general. He’s my best buddy.”

Mary Dockey, who lives across the street from Frame, said her neighbor had a reputation for always having the perfect lawn.

“We’d tease him because the lawn didn’t even need to be cut and there’s Denis — he had to have it perfect,” she said.

Dockey said Frame was the type of neighbor that would help out with anything, including when she had a chipmunk in her house.

“He was the first one to come over,” she said. “He was running all over my house with a towel trying to catch the little sucker.

“We are all in shock. I just can’t imagine him not living there anymore.”

Brad Englehart, Frame’s ex-brother-in-law, said Frame worked as a receiving clerk at Lowe’s.

Brovold said it is unlikely they will determine a definite cause of the fire because of all the possible sources of combustion inside the garage, including a space heater, gas cans, motorcycle, snow blower, lawn tractor and sports utility vehicle.

“There are multitudes of possibilities and we just couldn’t narrow it down,” he said, adding that the investigation was wrapping up as of early Wednesday afternoon.

Brovold said Frame was found inside an SUV in the garage and that he died of smoke inhalation.

Although it is only speculation, Brovold said it appears Frame was inside the home when the fire started and then ran into the garage, possibly to save a vehicle.

Firefighters were dispatched to the home shortly before 6 p.m. on a call of a garage fire with popping noises or explosions.

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