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SAN DIEGO — A man found unconscious inside a burning apartment died late Monday before he could be taken to a hospital.

San Diego Fire Department says the fire started in the lower level unit in the rear of the two-story apartment building on Altadena Avenue near Sterling Court.

Friends and neighbors identified the victim as Randy Hobdy. They describe Hobdy as a friendly man who enjoyed the outdoors and lived at his apartment for 10 years. Friends also say he was born and raised in San Diego and was approaching his 36th birthday on September 27.

San Diego Fire crews found the unconscious man shortly before 11 p.m. as fire crews were working to extinguish a blaze. He died while en route to Scripps Mercy Hospital. Fire crews say the victim’s roommate made it out alive.

“I opened the door and there was all this smoke and then like the smoke got like really high. Maybe something has been on, but it was just too hot so I opened up the fire thing and I jumped out,” said the roommate to authorities on scene.

Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading, although the apartment above the one in which the blaze broke out sustained minor damage and a third unit had light smoke damage. Crews had the blaze knocked down in about 15 minutes.

The American Red Cross was summoned to assist two men and two women with emergency lodging, Swanson said.

Fire officials estimated the damage caused by the fire at $250,000. The cause remained under investigation.