HOPEWELL, Va. -- One person and four dogs perished in a Hopewell house fire late Thursday evening, according to fire officials.
Neighbors heard loud explosions coming from a home and called police. Then they ran over to check on the man inside, but it was too late.
Tonya James, a family friend, said the community is mourning the loss of this beloved father, grandfather and friend.
“It’s tragic, something nobody wants to wake up to -- ever,” said James.
James tells us the 65-year-old war veteran was wheel chair bound with an oxygen tank.
“He was burnt alive in there and it was so bad they had to recover DNA from his daughter to match him," James said.
Hopewell Fire officials said they dispatched at 10:16 p.m. and arrived on scene within four minutes, to find heavy fire conditions coming from the front door and several windows.
Officials said they made a rapid and aggressive search in extreme heat and smoke conditions into the bedroom window, hoping to find the trapped occupant.
At the same time the engine crew made a push through the front door in heavy fire conditions and quickly found the occupant, who was removed from the residence.
Officials determined that the occupant succumbed to the fire conditions before they arrived. Four dog inside the residence were also deceased.
Hopewell Police Department, Prince George Fire and EMS, and Fort Lee Fire offered support in multiple capacities.
"It was an all around team effort that gave every possible chance for a better outcome that unfortunately didn’t turnout that way," said Hopewell Fire Chief Donald R. Hunter. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family that suffered the loss."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.