By CBS13 Staff

LODI (CBS13) — An early morning house fire in Lodi has claimed the life of an elderly couple and their dog, family says.

The fire was first reported a little before 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at a home along Debbie Lane.

Neighbors awoke to smoke and flashing lights with emergency responders everywhere.

“I just saw like all the fog and then it was like reddish and orange-ish and you could see the lights flashing,” said neighbor Angelina Reed.

Firefighters got to the scene and found a single-story home on fire. A search for victims began after firefighters got a report of two people possibly trapped inside.

Heavy smoke, coupled with an accumulation of stuff inside the home complicated the firefight and rescue effort.

Lodi Fire says it took around 15-20 minutes to find the victims. Once they were found, firefighters pulled them out immediately and began resuscitation efforts.

One person was pronounced dead at the scene, firefighters say. The second person was transported from the scene but later died at a nearby hospital.

Both victims suffered from smoke inhalation and burn injuries, firefighters noted.

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“It was a pretty chaotic experience,” said Armando Moreno, another neighbor.

By the time firefighters rolled up to this house, a next-door neighbor had already tried to save the elderly couple inside.

“He came down and said he was the first on the scene and broke the door down. He said he couldn’t do much. He said the flames were going through the house pretty good,” said Moreno.

Family told CBS13 Karl Nielsen and his wife Trila were trapped inside. Their dog also died in the fire. Those who had known them for years remembered them fondly.

Neighbor Ronnie Pimental said, “We would even talk with the COVID. It was across the street. we could see each other once in a while and chat – very nice people.”

Neighbors said Karl was a Vietnam veteran who loved decorating for the holidays. The couple kept to themselves for the most part, but were kind.

Exactly what started the fire is unclear at this point.