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Man dies in Tishomingo County house fire

Reported by: WTVA News
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Updated: 3/14/2014 10:24 am
IUKA, Miss. (WTVA) — A man is dead after a house fire early Sunday in Tishomingo County.

Tishomingo County Coroner Mack Wilemon said he has tentatively identified the man as 44-year-old James Matthew Willard, who owned the property.

Close friends said he was a quiet man.

"He was very private," said Jack Burcham, friend. "He just worked and came home. That was about it."

A native of New Hampshire, Willard moved to Iuka for work several years ago.

"He'd work all day long," Burcham added.

Now, those closest to him are grieving over a loss. "It's sure sad to find out about this tragedy that happened to him," Burcham said. "He'll be greatly missed."

According to Wilemon, firefighters responded to the fire at 3458 Highway 25 North around 1 a.m. Sunday.

"Dispatch received a call from a passing motorist reporting a blaze at the residence," Wilemon said.

When they arrived, the entire house was engulfed in flames. That's when a next door neighbor ran over and told emergency responders to search for a body.

"She told the fireman that someone was probably inside if the car was here," Wilemon added.

After entering the home, firefighters found a body.

"Remains were found inside the dwelling," Wilemon said. "Tentatively, we can say it was Mr. Willard."

The Tishomingo County Sheriff's Department said it won't release any information on the victim or comment until the autopsy provides a positive identification.

Wilemon said foul play hasn't been ruled out.  The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.

The body will be sent to Jackson for an autopsy Monday morning.

"I was hoping it wasn't true, but unfortunately," Burcham paused. "He was a good guy."
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