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Elderly woman dies in fire

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Jan. 23, 2001
Officials have identified a woman who died in her home Sunday night as 69-year-old Arlena Butler.
Butler's body has been transported to the Mississippi Mortuary in Jackson. An autopsy will be conducted tonight to rule out foul play and to determine the exact cause of death, whether Butler died from smoke inhalation or from burns sustained in the fire, said Lauderdale County Coroner Marl Cobler.
Officials said firefighters arrived on the scene at 1405 29th Ave. around 10:30 p.m. to find Butler on the floor near a space heater. Her two roommates, both of whom are in their 90s, escaped without injuries.
Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge said firefighters found no fire upon arrival. Butler was discovered next to the heater with burns on her body and her clothes burned off, he said.
Although members of the Arson Task Force are investigating, the fire is expected to be ruled accidental, he said.
The initial autopsy report could be returned as early as tonight.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.