DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- Fire officials confirmed Saturday that a house fire in Douglasville claimed one life. On Saturday night, family identified the victim to 11Alive.
The fire was reported in the 8900 block of Western Pines Drive in the Fairways subdivision with smoke that could be seen from miles away.
Douglas County Communications Director Wes Talon confirmed the fatality and reported that another person, later said to be the victim's son, was able to escape.
The victim’s son escaped safely but 74 year-old Ulis Slay died in the flames.
And while neighbors said they wanted to help, they told 11Alive that the flames - which started small but spread quickly - were just too much for them.
"In a matter of seconds the whole top level, flames just rushed it and it was coming out of every window," one neighbor said. "And we just couldn’t get to him."
The fire ultimately destroyed the back half of the home. The victim, Slay, was a retired truck driver and a disabled Vietnam vet - a man everyone always saw walking and talking with neighbors.
Now, a family and neighborhood is in mourning. To his neighbors he was Gary.
"He's the brother that I never had," one neighbor said.
But to his close friends and family, he was Ulis.
"He was my only brother left," Bob slay said. "I was expecting to go before he did."
He added that his brother had survived the Vietnam War and open-heart surgery. But it was this fire that took his life.
"I was expecting a health problem," he said. "I didn't think it would be fire."
Neighbors said the victim was seen regularly walking his dog in the area.
When he died, the dog was there with him. They passed away together.
Firefighters don't yet know how or where the fire began and are currently investigating the cause.
However neighbors reported being alerted to the blaze by a loud noise.