A man in his 80s was found dead inside his Petworth rowhouse Wednesday after fire engulfed the first floor.
Neighbors say smoke began billowing from the home shortly after the man said he was going inside to cook a turkey.
Fire officials say they can't say for certain at this point what sparked the blaze. Was it the cooking? It's unclear.
What we do know is firefighters found the man's body under some furniture on the first floor after a secondary search of the home.
The callers to 911 just after 11 a.m. said flames were coming from the first floor of a home in the 300 block of Webster Street.
Leroy Copeland, who lives a few doors down, says after noticing the flames, he saw neighbors trying to get inside the front door.
"They couldn't get in," said Copeland. "They had fire extinguishers, so I called the fire department."
After knocking down the flames, fire officials say the rescue squad had a difficult time inside the home.
"Units responding encountered quite a bit of contents from the home that were pretty much hoard conditions, packrat conditions and that was a challenge for them to get inside and extinguish the fire with those conditions," said Deputy Fire Chief Edward Pearson.
Public records show the owner of the house is 88 years old - a man well known in Webster Street.
"I'd see him out here, he used to pick up cans and stuff around the neighborhood," said Copeland.
Waddell Jackson, who lives across the street, said he would sometimes sit and talk with the man.
"He retired from the government," said Jackson. "He went through the Army Map Service, I think, but he used to go out every day and pick up aluminum cans."
It was a task that kept him busy while cleaning up the neighborhood.
"He used to get a lot of bread and stuff and give it to the neighbors," Jackson said. "He was a kind-hearted man."
By quickly knocking down the blaze, it appears firefighters were able to contain the flames within the framework of the rowhouse.
No one else was injured.
Although neighbors identified the man, FOX 5 is withholding his name until the next of kin have been notified.
We know he lived alone and his wife passed away about 10 years ago.
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