HOUSTON -

A firefighter died after he suffered what appeared to be a heart attack at a fire at a southwest Houston apartment complex.

The Houston Fire Department went to the Jade Stone apartments on Cook Road near Corona Lane about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday after a fire started on a stove.

The resident of the unit where the fire started said the firefighter, Senior Capt. Thomas Dillion, 49, collapsed at his doorstep.

"Once they got close to check it out, he collapsed instantly," Darius Coleman said. "He didn't even get in the house before he fell out."

Other firefighters rushed to Dillion's aid and began CPR. He was rushed to West Houston Medical Center, where he died.

Dillion had been with the Houston Fire Department for 22 years. He worked at station 69. He was filling in at station 76 on Wednesday.

"He was a good Christian, a family man," HFD Chief Terry Garrison said. "He cared a great deal about his mother, his sister and his grandchildren. That's really what he spent most of his time discussing at the fire station, his family."

He leaves behind three children. Dillion died on his oldest child's birthday, officials said.

"Today we lost a member of our family in the line of duty. His commitment to saving the lives and property of others is why we honor our firefighters' service," Mayor Annise Parker said.

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences will determine the cause of Dillion's death.

The fire in the apartment was quickly extinguished.