By Eva Ruth Moravec For

East Bexar County, Texas — A man died in an East Bexar County fire Christmas morning when he went back into a burning trailer home trying to save his favorite dog, officials said.

The man was identified by relatives as Frank “Poncho” Kruse, 62. He lived with his wife, Tina, in a double-wide in the 5100 block of Stanislaus.

After flames engulfed the home about 3:30 a.m., volunteers from China Grove, St. Hedwig and Lone Oak battled the blaze.

Bexar County sheriff’s Detective Frank Stubbs said there didn’t seem to be anything suspicious about the fire.

Laura Jesse, spokeswoman for the Bexar County fire marshal’s office, said the cause of the fire was undetermined, but the home was ruled a total loss. Kruse’s mother-in-law saw flames from her trailer next door and alerted his brother-in-law, Bob Sims.

Sims said he rapped on the couple’s bedroom window. Kruse got out and helped his wife and adult niece escape through the window, Sims said, but then went back inside once more.

“He went back in to get his dog,” Sims said, “and he didn’t come back out.”

Firefighters found Kruse’s body in the kitchen, said Stubbs, adding: “It’s a sad Christmas for this family.”

Kruse’s beloved 13-year-old Labrador, Sugar, died in the fire along with the couple’s second dog, Stubbs said.

A retired plumber, Kruse was well known in the neighborhood, where he always was seen with his canine counterpart.

“That dog was his pride and joy,” said Daniel Casey, Kruse’s son-in-law. “He didn’t go anywhere without it.”

Casey said the members of the large family typically spend Christmas morning together, eating breakfast and opening presents. This year, they congregated at crime scene tape outside the charred remains of the Kruse home.

“We’re extremely close,” Casey said. “Last night, we were all over here for a Christmas party, and everything was fine. It’s terrible — he was a good man.”