CANTON — A 64-year-old man was found dead in his burned out home after running inside to rescue the family’s three pet dogs.

When the fire broke out around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sherwood Campbell ran across the street to the house of Mark Blanchette, his brother-in-law, yelling that the house was on fire.

Blanchette said Campbell’s face was covered in soot.

They returned to the burning house and Campbell ran in the front door to rescue his dogs, Blanchette said.

Blanchette said he tried to prevent Campbell from going deeper into the house, grabbing onto one of his legs as Campbell climbed the stairs to the second floor.

But Blanchette had trouble breathing in the thick smoke, he said, and was unable to hold onto Campbell.

“I held it as long as I could, being dragged by him. I had to let go,” Blanchette said.

Blanchette was driven out the front door by the thick smoke.

“I could hear him saying help me, three times,” Blanchette said. “The last time you couldn’t barely hear him. It was really weak. I couldn’t go back in.”

Campbell was found this morning outside his bedroom door with his dog Whomper, an Alaskan eskimo.

“He was last seen near a second-floor window,” said Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.

“Another problem with Sherwood, he was a very large man and could not fit through the window of the second floor,” McCausland said. “There was no way he could have gotten out that window.”

Campbell’s body will be examined today to determine what killed him, but the most common cause of death in fires is smoke inhalation, McCausland said.

The other two dogs also perished in the fire.

The fire started in the kitchen and investigators with the state Fire Marshal’s Office were to return to the burned out house today to try to determine a precise cause. The fire spread quickly because of a large number of combustible items that filled much of the house, McCausland said.

“The lesson here is even though you may have pets or whatever in there, once you have gotten out of the burning house, you never go back in,” McCausland said. “In the time span that it has taken to report it, that fire has had a chance to multiply several times. Although our pets are important to all of us, our lives are more important.”

Campbell lived with his elderly parents, but they were not home at the time. His father was in the hospital with a medical condition and his mother was visiting him, McCausland said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.