AP NEWS

Florida landscaping expert dies in house fire

November 27, 2019 GMT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida man known to his neighbors for the extensive landscaping around his home has died in a house fire.

The Tampa Bay Times reports crews responded to 66-year-old John Starnes Jr.’s home in Tampa’s Ballast Point neighborhood early Tuesday morning.

Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny says firefighters were initially hindered by what appeared to be a live utility wire sagging and sparking in front of the house. Officials say the property filled with plants and other possessions also posed a challenge for firefighters trying to maneuver to attack the flames.

Once the fire was knocked down, rescue workers found Starnes’ body in a bathroom.

Starnes was a rose breeder and former landscaping expert. He shared his expertise at gardening for years in regular features for what was then the St. Petersburg Times.

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Information from: The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, http://www.tampatrib.com