Riverview, Florida -- Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the death of a man who was killed after his house caught fire early Thursday morning.
It happened at a home along Raulerson Road, near Boyette Road in Riverview.
A Tampa Bay Times newspaper delivery woman, Jennifer Christopher, and her 17-year-old daughter noticed the flames at around 3:30 this morning while on her usual route.
The two immediately tried to alert the neighbors and the person inside the burning house.
"I pulled up, beeping my horn, still calling 911," Christopher told 10 News.
As her daughter banged on a neighbor's door, Christopher and another neighbor went to the burning home to try to wake up the man inside. He injured his hand in the process of trying to save his neighbor.
They were not able to wake him up.
Next door, Linda Barrow and and her friend Carol were jolted awake by the sounds of Christopher and her daughter banging on the windows and doors.
"I mean, they were knocking everywhere trying to get us up," said Barrow. "The flames were so high that when we came out, we didn't even realize it was cool outside because the temperature outside was so hot. The fire was just blazing."
Barrow, who has lost a home to fire, begged a sheriff's deputy who arrived on scene to allow them to spray down her friend's home with the garden hose to keep the fire from spreading in the trees.
Barrow says the deputy did it for them so they could escape as fire fighters arrived to battle the blaze. The garden hose was still spread out on the side lawn where the scorched grass reached within feet of their property.
Photo Gallery: Fatal Riverview house fire
"I have to give the sheriff kudos for that," she said.
As the sun came up, the women watched as fire fighters continued to put out the smoldering fire to allow investigators inside.
The realization their neighbor may be the person who died in the blaze began to sink in for the women.
"It's just devastating," said Barrow. "Your life is so short, you can be here today and gone tomorrow. You just really need to be thankful for what you've got."
Barrow says the man who lived in the home lost his wife to cancer about a year and a half ago.
"It's just sad to think his life was lost in this fire today," said Barrow quietly.
Christopher can't help but to wonder if she could have done more. "I'm just glad we got the people to either side out and to safety and there weren't any more casualties than the one."
The Hillsborough County Fire Marshall's Office is investigating the cause of the fire while the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office conducts the death investigation.
Due to the extensive damage of the home, fire investigators say it may take time to determine the cause.
We are not naming the man who lives in the home until the person killed inside has been positively identified and family notified.