MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS -- An early-morning fire has killed A Middleburg Heights man and more than a dozen cats and birds.

Four cats are still missing and another is clinging to life.

The fire was so intense it gutted the home.

Friends and family gathered next door to comfort one another.

Tony Nardi has lived across the street for 20 years.

He couldn't believe what he saw and heard early this morning.

"Sounded like a train. You heard all these sirens all at one time it was so much it was unbelievable," said Nardi.

The parents and one of their adult children made it out of the house.

Their son did not.

Thirty-seven-year-old Mike Donofrio died along with eight cats and six birds.

Animal rescue had the daunting task of removing thedead animals from the home.

But two turtles and one bird survived, along with three cats that are being treated.

"For the two I have, they're doing very well. For the other one, I'm hoping and praying for him," said humane officer Laura Takacs.

Neighbors say their hearts break for the family.

They can't figure out what would have started a fire that took so many lives so quickly.

"I can't believe it," said Nardi.

It could take a few days before the exact cause of the fire is determined.