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Man found dead in burning Petersburg home

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A body was found in a burning home on the 400 block of Byrne Street in Petersburg Tuesday morning.

Firefighters first thought the home was vacant, but during the course of salvage and overhaul, the body was discovered, Petersburg Fire Chief Brian Sturdivant said.

The victim has not yet been positively identified.

Because of the fire damage, firefighters ruled the home unsafe for anyone to go inside.

"We try to preserve the area that the body was found, so that we can maintain evidence while we continue to work the structure to ensure the safety not only for firefighters, but for investigators in route," Sturdivant said.

While firefighters have not released information about the fire victim, neighbors believe the know the man who stayed in the empty home.

"I know he got a stick. That's how I recognize him," neighbor Jamel Ward said. "He doesn't have a cane, he has a tree stick because he has a bad leg."

Ward said the home had been vacant, and thought perhaps the man was sleeping there on cold nights.

"Trying to keep warm. It's rough out here," Ward said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

"[We] got our fire marshal, deputy fire marshal, and team from the state patrol that will be arriving with the cadaver dog will be leading up the investigation," Chief Sturdivant said.

Officials removed the body from the house Tuesday afternoon. The Medical Examiner's Office will release an ID and cause of death.