Keith Ziegler's 12-year-old son awoke to smoke detectors sounding in their Rosedale home and was the first to call 911.
But rescuers were unable to save Ziegler ,who died inside the Seling Avenue house after it caught fire early Sunday morning. Ziegler, 49, was identified by family and neighbors on Wednesday.
"I think he's going to take it very hard. He loved him dearly. He's not reacting much right now," said Ziegler's mother, Lee Zillig, of her grandson Ethan Cline. She said he spent most weekends at his father's house, and would come on large family vacations and holidays.
"The most important person in his life was his son Ethan," she said.
Ethan was not injured and no other injuries were reported at the scene. Fire officials said the cause of the fire remained under investigation Wednesday.
A Baltimore County fire investigator spent several hours Wednesday combing through the two-story home, where the front windows had been blown out by the blaze, leaving shards of glass scattered across the front walk way. The garage door had been ripped down and lay crumpled across the driveway where a child-sized "Escalade" toy car sat in a pile of ash.
Ziegler's boat, "Always Late" sat next to the house. Zillig said her son liked to sail. She said Ziegler took Ethan on fishing trips, to museums in Washington, air shows and to see eagles at Conowingo Dam.
"He was very good to that boy," said a neighbor, Doris Rizzo."It's sad, it's really sad."
She said Ziegler kept to himself but she would often see him out at the pool with Ethan and his friends as the swam on weekends.
Zillig said her son worked in management at various equipment companies over the years.
About 60 firefighters responded at about 7:20 a.m. and put the fire under control at 7:39 a.m.
Earlier this year, two men died as the result of a Reisterstown house fire on April 24. Steven Starr, 58, died and firefighter Gene Kirchner, 25, of the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company, later died at the hospital.
Ziegler's memorial service is scheduled for Thursday in Severna Park.