Several Brown Street residents on Wednesday said Humphreys "kept to himself" and often would take early morning walks in the neighborhood.
Ayers said a neighbor who lived next door to Humphreys could hear the elderly man shouting for help as the flames intensified. Ayers said the neighbor tried to enter the home but couldn't get the door open. "He just couldn't help him," Ayers said of the neighbor. "It was too much smoke and fire. There was nothing he could do."
That neighbor called 911, according to Ayers, who wouldn't identify the neighbor by name.
Ayers said debris and paper inside the house fueled the heavy blaze and made it difficult for firefighters to reach Humphreys.
"It was the same situation in each and every room," he said.
Steve Johnson, a public adjuster called to the scene, called it, "the biggest flame I've seen on a residential building."
Johnson said the blaze was so high, it would have could have reached to a third level. "The whole top floor was one flame," Johnson said.
Rasheim Hagwood, 30, who lives on the 4900 block of Brown Street, said the fire fatality "is very unfortunate, especially with the circumstances of him being old and by himself."
Hagwood said the fire engines woke him up and that watched firefighters battle the intense flames. He recorded some of the action on his cell phone.
The fire began on the first floor in the living room of Humphreys' home about 2:15 a.m., according to Ayers. The blaze raced through the first and second floors and through the roof of the two-story, 15-by-45 foot house.
The fire gutted Humphreys' home. The homes on both sides of the rowhouse also sustained damage, displacing eight neighbors, officials said. Five of the displaced neighbors were adults, and three were children.
The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania said it was providing the displaced residents with financial assistance for food, clothes and shoes. Red Cross spokesman Dave Schrader said the Red Cross is also going to provide Humphreys' daughter with any necessary assistance.
The Red Cross conducted a fire safety walk-through in the neighborhood with firefighters on Wednesday afternoon to distribute information and batteries for smoke detectors. Firefighters had smoke detectors on hand in case any homes needed one installed.
All of the homes on the 4900 block of Brown Street are supposed to be equipped with smoke detectors that run on 10-year, non-removable batteries, according to Ayers, citing the city's new smoke detector law.
On the fire that killed Humphreys and destroyed his home, "Nothing looks suspicious, but it looks like an accidental fire," Ayers said. He said fire marshals are investigating the incident to determine the origin and cause of the fatal blaze.
Contact Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Philly.com breaking news desk contributed to this story.