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THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Firefighters say one person is dead after a fire started at a boarding house on Cox Avenue in Thomasville.

Davidson County EMS says the call came in at 2:47 a.m. Thursday.

Don Crafford, the acting fire chief confirmed six people were living at the boarding house, including the person who died. Five are now displaced. One of those five went to the hospital. No cause of the fire has been determined.

Crafford said the investigation has been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigations, who arrived on scene at approximately 8 a.m.

It took first responders two minutes after the call came in to arrive at the home. They say five people had already evacuated, and they knew only one person remained inside.

Fire fighters tried to rescue the person trapped inside on the second floor of the boarding house, but their efforts failed. They say they had to back out of the boarding house because the fire and smoke were so thick, thereby putting fire fighters' lives in danger.

In making this decision to suspend rescue efforts, Crafford explained, "It's a judgment call that had to be made at that time. With where the probably location of the victim was and the extent of the fire at the time, it was deemed that (for) the victim there was nothing we could do."

Early Thursday, the Red Cross was on scene assisted the people who are displaced.

James Kearns, one of the five people who escaped from the boarding house, says one of his roommates attempted to save the victim--their friend. Kearns says he believes the victim, whom he says was 61 years old, might have been unconscious.

According to Kearns, neither he nor any of the five surviving tenants heard the smoke alarms go off. Kearns says he does not believe the alarms ever activated.

"My cousin came down and he called me and said James, get out the room, get out the room, the house is on fire." Kearns said. "I thought I was dreaming. He said it again, and I jumped up and got my clothes on and then I ran out the house. I didn't see [the victim]. I knew then he was inside the building."

Kearns says he does not know what might have caused the fire. He confirms the victim was a smoker, but he never knew the victim to smoke at that time of the morning.

Kearns describes the victim as a kind man who always was willing to do a favor. He said he and the other roommates are devastated they could not save their friend.

Stay with WFMY News 2 for updates on this story. Follow Meghann Mollerus on Twitter -- @meghannmollerus.

The victim's name is being withheld until the Thomasville Fire Department confirms next of kin have been notified.

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