CATOOSA COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- Investigators say the fire that killed a north Georgia man was likely caused by a cigarette he was smoking.

It happened Tuesday night at a home on Osceola Avenue in Rossville.

It wasn't until the man's family members started looking for him, that neighbors realized he had died in a fire.

"Until he got sick, he was out all the time," Bill Shepard says. "But the last couple years he's not been able to get out. And, it's hot. When it's hot, he won't come out."

Bill Shepard hadn't seen his neighbor Robert Goode in two days.

It wasn't until Goode's ex-wife showed up looking for him that he noticed something was wrong.

Shepard went in to find the 59-year-old badly burned and lying on the floor.

The furniture around him also showed signs of a fire.

"The chair was pretty bad burned, and I can't see how it didn't burn the house down," Shepard says. "But it just burned itself out."

Fire investigators say the fire appears to be accidental. A preliminary report shows Goode may have been smoking while on oxygen.

Shepard says his neighbor was a smoker, and he worried about him lighting up while being so sick.

"He had bronchitis I believe," he says. "He was on oxygen."

Fire officials are waiting on autopsy results to determine the exact cause of the fire.

Shepard says no matter the cause, he's lost a neighbor, fishing buddy and friend.

"That's one way you don't want to see anybody go," Shepard says. "He was our buddy."

"I'm just sorry this happened," Shepard says. "It's a heck of a way to go. I just hope he didn't suffer much."

The Catoosa County Coroner is expected to release autopsy results Thursday.