This story was updated at 2:55 p.m. on Sept. 27.
Montgomery County police on Wednesday identified the man who was found dead in a burning Bethesda home more than two weeks ago.
Police named Askia Khafra, 21, from the 700 block of Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring, as the victim in a press release.
On Sept. 10, firefighters responded to a house on fire on the 5200 block of Danbury Road. Smoke was visible coming out of the first and second floors and the basement.
The resident of the house, a 31-year-old man, escaped with injuries and was transported to a local hospital, but rescue crews found Khafra dead in the basement by the time they arrived.
The office of the state medical examiner has not completed Khafra’s autopsy or determined the cause and manner of his death, police said.
The house remains fenced off. Police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said police have maintained a presence at the house since the fire “in case something does rise to a criminal investigation.”
Starks said Tuesday there had been “some excavation” below the house, though he would not specify what the excavation was.
Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Dan Ogren said he didn’t know how extensive the excavation was—or if it could be classified as a tunnel, bunker or anything else—but that it appeared the homeowner had dug below the floor of his basement.
The excavation wasn’t discovered until later and did not hinder firefighter response to the home, Ogren said. Investigators have isolated the fire’s likely area of origin to another part of the basement and believe the excavation had “nothing to do with” the cause, he said.
A complicating factor in the response and continuing investigation has been what officials describe as hoarding conditions in the home. The abundance of materials around the house have made it more difficult to determine the fire’s cause, Ogren said, and might have provided fuel for the fire.
Ogren said investigators are testing several chemicals found in the house. The chemicals have legitimate purposes, like hydrogen peroxide or drain cleaner, but also could be used to make explosives. He said investigators do not have specific reasons to believe that chemicals or explosives were involved in the fire.
Tests for accelerants in some areas of the house have turned up negative, he said.
“Since there was a death, we look into everything,” he said.