LEBANON — Neighbors say the man who died in a fire that destroyed his home in Lebanon on Wednesday faced multiple challenges in recent years, including the deaths of his wife and mother and, in the last year, medical problems that forced the amputation of his legs at the knees and left him with serious vision problems.

“He’s had a very, very tragic few years,” said Geneva Nice, who lives across the street from the man, whom she identified as Kevin. “He looked like this rough, gruff guy on the exterior, but he suffered so much.”

Officials are not releasing his name until his family is notified, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire, which was reported on Bakers Grant Road before noon Wednesday. Investigators were on the scene to recover the body and try to determine the cause of the fire, McCausland said.

Nice’s husband, Tim, said he and another neighbor ran up the long driveway to Kevin’s house when they saw clouds of smoke.

“The house was full of smoke and the back was on fire. We knew there was no going in,” said Tim Nice. “I knew he hadn’t gotten out. It had just snowed and there were no wheel tracks on the ramp.”

Nice and his wife said they brought food to Kevin a few times after he got out of the hospital, but he was a private person and had caretakers who came daily to care for him. Neighbors said he had a circulation problem that led to the amputations, and he later suffered a heart attack and a stroke that diminished his vision.

Three young boys who were playing next door said they saw the smoke from the fire and heard Tim Nice and other neighbors shouting as they tried to help.

“I looked and saw a big glob of smoke and we heard the screaming,” said Dakota Turner, 10, who was standing at the end of his driveway with his mother, Amanda Turner, watching the firefighters still on the scene hours later.

Amanda Turner said Kevin was known for tinkering on cars in a garage on Bakers Grant Road, at the end of the drive leading to his home. He frequently sat out in front of the garage for hours, talking to friends, she said.

“You would always see Kevin and his buddies in the garage,” Turner said.

Even before the amputation, Kevin would ride around the neighborhood – or go about a mile down the road to an ice cream store – in a golf cart. More recently, he would drive around in his motorized wheelchair, she said.

“He looked rough around the edges, but he was very nice.”