- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

ROCHESTER, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man who appeared on “The Howard Stern Show” as Hillbilly Jack has died in a fire that began when he fell asleep while cooking, authorities said Monday.

Neighbors considered Hillbilly Jack Rushman a local celebrity because of those appearances, according to the Beaver County Times, which first reported his Saturday death.

Rushman, 55, was a member of the Wack Pack - a group of outrageous personalities who called or appeared on Stern’s show.

Next-door neighbor Chad Scobie told the newspaper he saw Rushman headed home with a package of ground meat at about 5:30 p.m., and he called 911 when he heard the fire “popping” about 20 minutes later. Rushman lived in New Sewickley Township, about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

He was a “funny and interesting guy,” Scobie said.

Rushman died of thermal and inhalation injuries from the fire, which has been ruled accidental, Beaver County coroner Teri Tatalovich-Rossi said Monday.

His brother, Jonas Rushman, of Ambridge, said firefighters told the family Jack had apparently started cooking something on the stove when he fell asleep in a chair.

Jonas Rushman said his brother found fame accidentally, when Stern’s staff saw online videos in which his brother espoused his homespun views, often while mugging for the camera.

“I think they sought him out because he had a string of YouTube videos. They were explaining his take on life,” Rushman said. He hadn’t appeared on the show recently, however.

“He said he couldn’t get through when he’d call,” Rushman said.

The family will remember Jack for his independent attitude, Rushman said.

“He didn’t want anything from anybody. He knew how to do it,” his brother said.

A call to Stern’s agent wasn’t immediately returned Monday.

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