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Man whose body found in burned car is identified

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Authorities on Tuesday identified a man whose body was found in a vehicle destroyed by fire last week at a campground in northern Powell County.

He is Colin Patrick McKnight, 36, of Bonner, according to Sheriff Scott Howard.

The cause of death and fire are unknown at this time, but no foul play is suspected, authorities said.

The fire occurred in the early morning hours of June 11 at the Harry Morgan Campground, a Forest Service fishing access on the Blackfoot River along the Ovando-Helmville road.

Howard said his office received a 911 call at 4 a.m. from an area resident who observed a “bonfire” and heard what sounded like fireworks at the campground.

The Ovando fire department responded. When Howard and Powell County Coroner Lee Jewell arrived, they found a burned car with the remains of a man lying in it; he had apparently been sleeping.

The 2001 silver Nissan SUV, registered to McKnight, was put on a tow truck from Seeley Lake and taken to the crime lab in Missoula. There pathologist Dr. Willy Kemp and Jewell removed the remains from the vehicle into the crime lab and the vehicle was taken to the Missoula County warehouse.

Howard said he notified the Justice Department of Criminal Investigation requesting a fire marshal to determine the cause of the fire.

Howard said he worked diligently for the past few days to identify the victim saying the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office was extremely helpful in assisting with the task. The family has been notified.

McKnight, who was born and raised in Ohio and worked in Missoula as a counselor, authorities said.


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