VANCOUVER -- A couple is dead after an early morning house fire in North Surrey.

The fire broke out at 4 a.m. at a detached house on 125B Street near Old Yale Road.

A neighbour said he saw the man who lives there the night before.

"He was with us at 8 o'clock last night. 4:30 a.m. I got up to go outside, I heard a bit of noise and his house was engulfed," said Jora Chima, who lives up the street.

"I've known Bob about 10 years. He lives with his girlfriend. Elderly couple, very nice. He's done a lot of donations and deliveries for societies."

He says the flames shot into the sky and narrowly missed the homes next door and the powerlines up above.

"We ran over as fast as we could to get the neighbours up and it was just too hot to get inside," he said.

Chima says Bob and his girlfriend were in their late 60s. The couple has not yet been identified by officials.

"Very nice person. You needed a ride, you needed anything from him, he was always willing to give you the shirt off his back."

Chima and his roommates tried to rescue the couple, but accessing the house was a challenge.

"The middle of the house got engulfed through the roof. So when the fence was broken, we broke the fence, there was no way of going in because the flames they were just so big. They were about 30 feet in the air."

Firefighters also struggled to access the home.

125B Street is a narrow, dead end road and the homes are surrounded by trees.

"The property itself is extremely challenging because there was a lot of debris. It was a lot of challenging property to get to. There was a lot of stuff in the backyard and throughout the home," said Steve Serbic, assistant chief for the Surrey Fire Service.

Serbic says the couple's bodies were found in the basement of the home and it's unclear if they were sleeping when the fire started.

It took a team of 11 trucks and 34 firefighters to douse all the hot spots.

No one else was hurt, but neighbours say the couple's cat is missing.

The RCMP, BC Coroners Service and a fire Investigator spent the morning at the house.

Officers were seen going door to door looking for witnesses.

Chima says it's a devastating loss to the entire neighbourhood and a day he'll never forget.

"Not being able to do anything, that was the hardest part."

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.