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Mexican farmworker fire investigation continues

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An autopsy shows a Mexican farmworker on a St. Lawrence County dairy farm died of smoke inhalation. The man was found in the bedroom of a mobile home destroyed by fire. A frying pan left unattended on a stove sparked the blaze. According to the Watertown Daily Times, authorities still haven't identified the man or found his family in Mexico. Three other Mexican nationals escaped the fire. David Sommerstein reports.

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State police investigator Andrew Gayeski says 35 year-old Oscar Rubio is recovering from serious burns at UpstateMedicalCenter in Syracuse.

He was classified as critical, but now I believe he's going to be stable and he's going to pull through, make a full recovery.

Gayeski says 34 year-old Carlos Perez is in fair condition at Fletcher Allen in Burlington.

An unidentified Mexican man was killed when a blaze consumer the trailer where the farmworkers were living on Maple View dairy in Madrid.  Gayeski says the fire started accidentally.

One of the occupants was cooking on the stove and left the kitchen area.  It was an electric stove and there was a pan cooking on the stovetop.

Gayeski says an investigation continues, but so far there are no signs of any other fire hazards or substandard conditions in the trailer.

Another farmworker who survived the fire, Francisco Valente, was detained on suspicion of being in the country illegally when he was released from MassenaMemorialHospital on Wednesday.  State police say Valente is awaiting a deportation hearing in Buffalo.  U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Mark Henry wouldn't confirm or deny whether his agency is continuing an investigation into the fire or the working status of the men.

Maple View dairy is one of St. Lawrence County's largest, with more than 1000 cows.  It's owned by well-known farmer David Fisher, who serves on the county's Ag and Farmland protection Board.  Calls to the farm were not returned.

It's well known that hundreds of Mexicans and Central Americans work on North Country dairy farms.  They most often live in mobile homes on the farms and rarely leave the farm premises.  Most are in this country illegally.

For North Country Public Radio, I'm David Sommerstein. 

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