BASSFIELD, MS (WDAM) - The city of Bassfield and the entire Jefferson Davis county community is mourning the death of former Bassfield Fire Chief Bill Matthews.
Matthews died Tuesday evening from a heart attack after fighting a fire on Keys Graves road in Bassfield.
"He cared about the people, he cared about the community and he did his best to help out," said Elizabeth Matthews, Bill Matthews' wife.
Elizabeth Matthews said she and her husband treated the volunteer fire department like family.
"The Bassfield fire department is a big family," she said. "These firefighters are like my sons and daughters, and they were the same with him."
Bassfield Mayor Pat Courtney said she is mourning the loss of her best friend.
"He was my best friend. If someone was in my office he would come in, shake their hand and introduce himself. He was just that type of person."
Members of the Bassfield Fire Department are grieving as well.
"In my six years of being with the Fire Department, he was like a step-daddy to me," Jonathan Fairley said.
"That man was like a father to all of us, he was special in every kind of way and he loved us," Nicole Fairley said.
"It didn't matter the time of day, where he was at, what he was doing, or how bad he felt that day, you could count on Mr. Bill to be there when a fire hit," Franklin Cooley said.
"He had more of an impact on me than anyone else in my life, and he was always there for us no matter what," Dallas Smith said.
For some members of the Bassfield Volunteer Fire Department, Bill Matthews represented a second chance.
"A lot of us didn't grow up like we were supposed to," Riley Smith said. "He liked to call us the second chance fire department. He never asked any questions, he just wanted us to do right. Most of us are on a way better path because of him."