SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A man was found dead after a house fire in east Springfield early Tuesday. The fire was in the 1900 block of East Elm Street, east of Glenstone Avenue, just after 3:30 a.m. Firefighters found a man dead inside the home, but the fire may not be what killed him.
Police say the man suffered other injuries in addition to those sustained in the fire. Fire and police investigators are now working to determine exactly what happened.
The smell of smoke was the first sign of trouble for a security officer driving through the Springfield neighborhood.
"I looked back and forth a few times, and finally, I could see a pillar of smoke then. And when I came around this way on that side street here, the garage burst into flames," said Carl Templeton.
Templeton called 911 and then tried to help.
"I went down and pounded on the doors, couldn't get anybody to come to the door. The fire was really intense at that time. It was melting the siding on the other two houses," Templeton said.
When firefighters arrived, both the garage and house were aflame, and crews forced entry to the house.
"When they got inside, they found things that concerned them with what was there, so they called police in to help with that," said Springfield Police Lt. Greg Wheelen.
Police first said two bodies were found inside the home, but later confirmed only one man was found dead.
"That's disturbing too, if he had other injuries," said neighbor Debbie Plaster.
Police say something also continued to fuel the fire.
"I looked out, and all I could see was smoke. And I thought, well, they've got it put out, and then all of a sudden, the back of the house went, " said Plaster.
Plaster says a retired couple has lived in the house across the street from hers for nearly 20 years.
"They just kept to themselves. You never saw them. I talked to them a few times, and they were never apart. When one would leave, they both left. That's why I'm surprised just one," said Plaster.
KY3 spoke with the mother of the woman who lives in the house. She says her daughter was checked into a hospital on Monday and is still there. Her daughter's husband would have likely been the only one in the home.
"Sadness, great sadness, prayers; they need prayers," said Plaster.
The investigation into the cause of the fire and the man's death were still ongoing on Tuesday evening. Police have not released that man's name. An autopsy will determine whether the fire or something else killed him.