BRANDON — Tommy Sims woke up early Monday to the sound of crackling.
It was about 1 a.m. when the 52-year-old physician assistant heard the noise and saw flames shooting from his neighbor's home on Forecast Drive.
Sims rushed to his neighbor's front door and started banging.
"I tried to kick it in and the fire just kept getting bigger and bigger and then it jumped from his place to mine," Sims told the Tampa Bay Times.
At that point, he had to retreat and wait for firefighters.
Fire crews arrived at about 1:25 a.m. and brought both fires under control within an hour, authorities said. Firefighters discovered a body inside the home at 4027 Forecast Drive. Investigators have started looking into the cause of the fire and what led to the death of the person found inside.
The name of that person was not made public. Property records show the body was found in a three-bedroom, 1,400-square foot home.
Both homes are in the Four Winds Estates subdivision off South Kings Avenue. Sims said he had been renting the house at 4029 Forecast for the last two years. He lived alone.
"It's a total loss," he said of the home.
Sims said his neighbor was friendly, "a good guy." As for the source of the fire next door, Sims said: "It looked like the epicenter of the fire was somewhere around the kitchen."
He planned to return later Monday to see if he could salvage any of his possessions. He's staying with his father as he plans his next move. "One day at a time,' he said.
Times staff writer Carl Lisciandrello contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (813-226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.