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Popular gardener remembered after he dies in house fire

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Neighbors and long-time friends of a popular gardener in South Tampa are remembering him as a helper with an eccentric personality.

John Starnes died in a house fire early Tuesday morning, according to Tampa Police. Tampa Fire-Rescue was called to his home on Paxton Avenue around 12:20 a.m.

Starnes was an avid gardener, who enjoyed sharing his passions with friends and neighbors.

“He was liked by everyone,” says long-time friend Robert Cooper.

When crews arrived to his home, they say they noticed huge flames coming from the home.

It was difficult for them to get inside because a live wire sagged and sparked in front of the home, a fire department spokesman said.

“It has been reported by neighbors that the man has a dog, a pet dog, and we’ve been able to locate the dog at this time,” said Jason Penny, spokesman for Tampa Fire Rescue.

It’s believed the fire started from an electrical malfunction according to Tampa Fire-Rescue.

“But whenever it cools off like this, people break out their space heaters,” Penny said. “Don’t know if that’s actually what caused it.”

A neighbor said the flames shot 15 to 20 feet from the side of the house. No other homes in the neighborhood were affected.

No one was hurt fighting the fire, Penny said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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