Paul Jarvis Jr. had made it safely out of his burning house in Butler, Pa. after midnight Saturday holding guinea pigs.
Then the 22-year-old reportedly turned around and went right back inside to rescue more pets.
But Jarvis never returned.
Firefighters found Jarvis' body in a second-story bedroom of the house he shares with his father — who was at work at the time of the fire — and one other person, according to WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh.
"He was a really good kid," neighbor Matthias Johnson told WPXI.
Fire Chief George Ban said the fire was first reported at 12:05 a.m. Saturday and firefighters, who began arriving within 90 seconds, got about 10 feet into the house but were driven back by heavy fire and heat. They got the fire under control within about 30 minutes, he added.
"I had smoke coming right beside my bedroom window," neighbor Steve Whitmier told WPXI. "I saw the flames and all that, so I grabbed my wife and ran outside."
Johnson said one of Jarvis’s friends, who was in a car outside the house, went next door for help.
"It's about midnight and someone is pounding on my door, screaming 'Fire!'" Johnson told WPXI. "It's just scary to see somebody so young die over something as simple as going after his pet."