The owner of a house along the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland died early Wednesday in a fire that nearly destroyed the dwelling, the man’s neighbor said.

Authorities did not immediately release the name of the victim. But a neighbor, 58-year-old Mark Wilson, identified the victim as the owner and said they were close friends.

Wilson said the man lived alone and that his ex-wife lived nearby. A son is away at college. Wilson said the man’s relatives came to the house, in the 6500 block of Lower Marlboro Lane in Owings, after the fire was extinguished.

The Washington Post is not naming the victim until authorities confirm his identity. A cause of death has not been determined.

Investigators said they have not determined how the fire started. It was reported by a neighbor shortly after 4 a.m., the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said. In addition to the house, the blaze extensively damaged three cars parked on the premises.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce D. Bouch said damage is estimated at $250,000. Volunteer firefighters from Huntingtown, Prince Frederick, Dunkirk and North Beach and career firefighters from Anne Arundel County responded to the scene.

The house is about four miles west of Route 4, across the river from Patuxent River Park.

Maryland tax records show the owner of the house to be a
64-year-old man.

Wilson said he last talked with the victim on Christmas Eve, discussing retirement. He said his neighbor worked on ships, doing deep-water salvage and geological surveys, and was away for months at time, most recently in the Pacific. He lived in the waterfront house for about 10 years, Wilson said, and was an avid hunter who went to hunting clubs in Richmond.

Wilson said the man was supposed to have come to his house for Christmas dinner.

“He was a good guy,” Wilson said. “He would always come over and help, and I’d help him.”

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