An El Cajon man was found dead inside his home after a fire sparked early Thursday, family members told NBC 7.
Heavy smoke and flames were pouring from the home near the intersection of Magnolia and Washington avenues when firefighters arrived at about 5:15 a.m., Heartland Fire & Rescue officials said.
Mike Loveless, 72, was disabled and recently suffered a setback in his health, according to his nephew.
"He was known around here as someone who was quite generous and he let people stay here when they didn't have a place to stay," Berkeley Loveless told NBC 7.
A neighbor who heard others' screams for help ran inside before firefighters arrived to try to find the man who lived there.
"At first it wasn't that big, it got bigger fast," Don Campbell said.
Campbell said he was overwhelmed by smoke and didn't know which direction to go so he left it to fire crews.
"I keep looking over there because I want to see that, God willing, they'll bring him out and everything will be alright," Campbell said.
Firefighters had the blaze knocked down in less than 20 minutes. Investigators remained on scene to investigate the cause of the blaze.
Berkeley Loveless said his family has owned the property since the 1920s. his uncle attended El Cajon Valley High School and spent most of his life in the neighborhood.
Two women were inside the home and made it out unharmed, officials said.
The San Diego chapter of the American Red Cross has offered helped to the women. They gave them food, clothes and some money to help them find a temporary place to stay.