HARVEYS LAKE -- There is little damage to the outside of a home in Harveys Lake, but investigators believe a small fire in a recliner filled the house with smoke and left the man inside dead.
Neighbors said it all happened on the five year anniversary of the death of the man's wife.
The Luzerne County coroner identified the man who died as Robert Hart, 81.
He was found dead inside his home with his beloved dog, Thome. Neighbors said Hart got the dog as a companion, after his wife Crystal died, exactly five years ago Wednesday.
Harveys lake police said Robert Hart's daughter stopped in for a visit at his home on Hart Lane, just off Route 415. She said the home was filled with smoke. An officer used an extinguisher to put out a small fire in the recliner before firefighters arrived. The Luzerne County coroner said the 81-year-old man and his dog were found dead.
The Harveys Lake Fire Chief said this was difficult for the department because many members have known Hart for years.
"We had a truck a couple of years ago that needed a new cradle underneath the tank. Him and a bunch of his welding buddies got together and repaired it for us at no charge. They just donated everything," said Chief David Davis of Harveys Lake Fire Department.
Jason Miller moved to Harveys Lake about eight years ago. He described Hart as a nice guy and said he can't believe that his next-door neighbor died in a fire.
"That is his last name, but his heart was big! He's just a tender guy. He might come across as a little rough, but believe me, he was a good guy," said Miller.
An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning.
Neighbors said Robert Hart did smoke inside his home, and state police fire marshals are looking into whether that played a role in the deadly fire.