MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — 70-year-old James Willis’ home caught on fire just weeks after finding out he has prostate cancer.

“I’m just proud to be alive,” Willis said.

James Willis moved into his Marianna home in 1966. Almost 55 years later, all he has left of it, are his recollections.

“A lifetime of memories went up in smoke,” the homeowner said. “I still say there was a reason for it but I don’t know what it was.”

Mr. Willis raised his family in this home off Highway 73 in Marianna. He was the only one still living in it.

He said he was coming back from the store when he noticed smoke coming out of what looked to be the kitchen.

Mr. Willis said he tried to put out the fire but was not able to. He had no choice but to turn back around.

“It was better to lose the house than to lose my life,” Willis said.

A passerby called 9-1-1. Jackson County Fire Rescue along with Alford, Compass Lake Fire Departments, Mossy Pond, and Clarksville Fire Departments all responded to the call.

“When they arrived they found a house that was fully involved with flames,” Jackson County Fire Rescue Fire Chief Charlie Brunner said. “It took several hours to put the flames out and fortunately nobody was injured in the fire.”

Mr. Willis is temporarily staying with family while he figures out his next steps.

“If I can find me a good used trailer somewhere, I’ll probably put a good used trailer here,” Willis said.

Mr. Willis is receiving donations through his daughter-in-law’s CashApp: $TabWillis2020.