MILLINOCKET, Maine — A man died when fire destroyed part of his Elm Street home in the predawn hours of Thursday despite a neighbor’s attempt to rescue him, officials said.

One witness said that the light of the flames was so bright that it came through her shut bedroom window blinds.

“A woman down the street tried to knock on the windows to help or to wake him up. The windows blew out and she ran around the house to the other windows and could not get his attention, and then the fire engulfed the house,” said Erika Dash, a neighbor. “It was too late for us to try to run over and get him out.”

“The house is a quarter of an acre from us,” Dash added.

The would-be rescuer related the story to Dash after firefighters arrived, she said. Dash said her husband, Jerry Potvin, woke her when he saw the glow from the window.

Firefighters had not yet arrived, Dash said. She was calling 911 as the first firetrucks got there.

The fire was reported at 3:41 a.m., a Penobscot Regional Communications Center dispatcher said. The state fire marshal’s office confirmed the death but did not release the man’s name.

As of 9:30 a.m., investigators were still on-scene, Dash said.

Dash identified the man, but the Bangor Daily News is not releasing his name due to uncertainty about whether his next of kin has been notified. She said he was a carpenter who helped Potvin and Dash build a swinging bench that is hanging from a tree in the front yard.

“He was a very kind, very sweet man, always waving, always happy. He was a great neighbor,” Dash said. “He loved to help people.”

Information from CBS 13 was included in this report.