ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A 56-year-old man was killed when a fire broke out in his home in Allegan Friday morning.

The fire started shortly before 6 a.m. in the man’s second-floor bedroom at the home on Russell Street near the intersection of Lincoln Street.

Firefighters identified the man as Joe McDaniel, who had lived in the family home for decades. He was living there with his mother and stepdaughter, who escaped.

Allegan Fire District Chief Nick Brink told News 8 that the fire is believed to have started with careless smoking. Smoke alarms alerted his stepdaughter. Brink said McDaniel told his stepdaughter to bring him an extinguisher.

“He tried to fight it and by the time he realized he couldn’t, he tried to get out the (second-story) window and didn’t make it,” the chief said.

Firefighters suspect McDaniel died of smoke inhalation, but are awaiting autopsy results to confirm that.

“Most of the time, you’re not going to win against smoke, so it’s best to get out, make sure everybody is safe and let the firefighters do their job,” Brink said.

The fire chief said it was the second fire death in about 20 years in Allegan.

Hours later, the mailman who has delivered to the neighborhood for 15 years teared up as he drove up to the fire-damaged home.

“He’d meet me at the bottom of the steps every day and we’d talk about old times,” mailman Pat Curley said. “We were both the same age. We’d talk about working on my ’68 Camaro when I retire, getting a cooler full of beer.

“It’s going to be really tough, having to go by this house every day.”