VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Virginia Beach firefighters are investigating what started a fire that put 3 people out of their home Saturday.

Crews were on Hillock Crossing, which is near Diamond Springs Road and Lawson Hall Road, around 6:40 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they saw smoke and flames billowing from the front and back of a town house. They kept the fire from spreading to adjoining homes. That included the home of Dan Ellerton.

"My neighbor called me and told me that the town house next door to me was on fire and they were ready to break into my town house because they were afraid that flames would spread," said Ellerton.

After he got the call from the neighbor, he rushed home and allowed firefighters into his house so they didn't have to break into it.

"It was getting ready to jump to that town house and get ready to jump to mine," explained Ellerton as he gestured towards the homes. "If they hadn't have gotten it out when they did, we could've had a whole row of town houses go up."

Instead, Ellerton's home only has some melted siding and smoke damage inside it, nothing compared to the damage at the town house where the fire started.

The American Red Cross is helping the woman and 2 men who lived in the burning town house.