SANFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- Authorities are investigating a house fire that killed a man early Sunday morning.
Fire officials say he died around 2:30 a.m. in the 1600 block of Prosperity Drive in Sanford.
Authorities have not released the victim's name but neighbors identified the man as "Jack".
Neighbors told ABC11 he was a longtime resident who spent about 17 quiet years in the home.
"I've been living here for a long time, and I got to know Jack really well. He did little side work for people, like I do, and he was just a good guy," said neighbor Eddie Bethune.
"He respected the elderly and everything. He was quite a nice guy. He didn't bother nobody," added neighbor Elsie McLean.
Neighbors told ABC11 Jack has relatives in California.
"My whole heart goes out to all of them. All of them. If there was any way we could have helped him we would have, 'cause my son [Bethune] came out and tried to help the guy get him out," McLean said.
Bethune says he noticed the commotion next door, moments before a man came to his home asking for help saving his friend.
He called 911 and then went next door with the man.
"The smoke was so thick that I couldn't see the guy in the house. But we were breaking a window. The guy said he had heard him holler 'help me,' but the smoke would take over, and the fire. It was too late for him," Bethune said.
Investigators say the fire started in the kitchen and may have been sparked by a pot left on a hot stove.
Sanford police and the SBI are investigating.
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