Natchez man killed in late night house fire

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2000

A Natchez man died late Wednesday after a fire destroyed his Old Smith Lane residence. Natchez firefighters removed Joseph White, age not available, from a wood-frame house at 10 Old Smith Lane after they were called at 10:53 p.m., said Natchez Fire Chief Gary Winborne.

By the time firefighters arrived the fire had already broken through the ceiling and the back of the house was engulfed in fire.

Winborne said the six- to eight-room house received heavy damage &uot;to the point that it wouldn’t be rebuildable.&uot;

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When the fire department arrived, White’s wife Artie Rose told them that her husband was still inside the house.

&uot;I think it’s our first fatality this year,&uot; Winborne said. &uot;We were hoping to get through the year without one.&uot;

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Winborne said. At the time of the fire, the house did not have power because a Wednesday night storm knocked a tree onto a power line.

Esther Cuffie, one of the Smiths’ four daughters, said her father probably stayed behind in the house to gather personal belongings. &uot;My father was a person who treasured all kinds of possessions,&uot; Cuffie said Thursday. &uot;He loved books, he loved papers, he loved artifacts, he loved photographs …&uot;

According to her mother’s account, Cuffie said her father never exited the house during the fire.

Relatives and neighbors remembered White Thursday for his kindness, his love of music and his religious beliefs.

&uot;He loved to talk. He loved to tell stories, particularly from the old days,&uot; said Nigel Cuffie, White’s son-in-law. &uot;I think his passion was Bible discussion. He had a very strong religious beliefs and was unabashed when he shared his religious convictions.&uot;

&uot;He was a nice neighbor,&uot; said Marie Fulton, shaking her head.

White was the father-in-law of Natchez Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West.

Neighbor Katie Hawkins said Joseph White often helped other people.

&uot;There’s not many that would take time to help you like that man did,&uot;&160;she said.