Body found in vacant house that caught fire

HOUSTON - A fire at a vacant house on the northeast side has led to a death investigation after the discovery of a man's body inside the home.

It happened just after 3 a.m. Saturday at a home near Terry and Alber streets.

A neighbor ran to Houston Fire Department Station 12 to alert firefighters of the flames. When firefighters arrived, a small fire was burning in the living room, where they found a 39-year-old man's body.

"There were no obvious signs of gunshot wounds or stab wounds," said Lt. Warren Meeler with the Houston Police Department.

Parts of the body were burned and had a few bruises, possibly caused by an attempt to escape the fire, police said.

"The fire started in one part of the house, he was found in another," Meeler said. "The house was boarded up and the front door was locked with a pad lock, so once the fire started it's possible he may have run around trying to get out."

Neighbors who spoke to Local 2 said the house has been vacant for at least a couple years. Some said they weren't surprised by the deadly discovery.

"They caught someone just hanging out in the back there the other day," Alfonso Espadas said. "We called the cops. That place is abandoned and people are always walking around."

Detectives believe the man frequently stayed inside the vacant home. Some neighbors told detectives the man was a heavy smoker, which leads them to believe cigarettes may have started the fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The cause of the fire and the man's death have not been determined. 

An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

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