COLUMBIA — Jerry Brown was sleeping Thursday morning when next-door neighbor Kevin Murphy knocked on his front door about 5:30 a.m.
"I thought, 'Why is there a crazy person ringing my doorbell?'" Brown said. "When he rang my door, he was pretty frantic."
Murphy was alerting neighbors that his home was engulfed in flames.
"Thank God he came when he did, because who knows how many of these houses would have caught fire with the wind blowing and how debris was flying," said Evie McGowan, another next-door neighbor.
The fire took place at 8605 N. Cedar Court. An initial investigation by the Boone County Fire Protection District ruled the cause as undetermined, Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said.
No one was injured, but Murphy's cat was inside the house when the fire broke out, Blomenkamp said. He described the house as "a total loss."
According to neighbors, Murphy had spent the night at work because of car trouble and wasn't home when the fire started.
"He was going to come home around 5:30 a.m. but for some reason woke up earlier and thought he might as well come home, shower and get some rest," McGowan said.
When Murphy returned home, he saw his house in flames. He dialed 911 and warned neighbors, McGowan said. The initial call came at 5:22 a.m.