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Man dies in house fire

A Lexington man died Monday after a fire at his home, which had been scheduled to be sold at noon in a commissioner's sale.

Leslie Burns Jr. was pronounced dead at 10:44 a.m. at University of Kentucky Hospital, according to a release from the Fayette County coroner's office.

The death was being investigated as an accident, the release said.

Firefighters found Burns just inside the front door of his house at 336 Hollyhill Drive, Lexington Fire Battalion Chief Harold Hoskins said.

The fire appeared to have started in a rear hallway. Hoskins said there was smoke damage throughout the 11/2 -story brick house.

A cause had not been determined as of Monday afternoon, but Hoskins said the department will continue to investigate.

Irene Smirz was taking a morning walk about 10 a.m. when she saw smoke coming from the house. Forgetting that she had a cell phone, she asked Harrison Burrus, a city solid-waste worker picking up recycling in the neighborhood, to call the fire department.

Burrus called a dispatcher, who called the fire department. Smirz and Burrus watched as firefighters brought Burns, unconscious, out of the house.

"His clothes were burned to his body," Smirz said.

Pete Mathews, a neighbor, said Burns lived alone and kept to himself.

"We hadn't seen him," Mathews said. "We thought maybe he had moved out."

The house where Burns lived had been scheduled to be sold at noon Monday as part of foreclosure action filed in Fayette Circuit Court. The master commissioner's sale was canceled after the fire.

Burns had owed more than $11,000 in delinquent property taxes, penalties and fees for 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2007, according to court documents.

The house, four blocks south of Southland Drive, was appraised at $95,000 in early April, the documents said.