SAN JOSE -- A sleeping man's dogs may have saved his life when they alerted him to a fire at his Ivycreek Circle fourplex Thursday night, but one of them succumbed to smoke when it ran into his bedroom instead of out of the home, fire officials said.

San Jose fire Capt. Mike Van Elgort said the man came out of his bedroom when he heard the four dogs barking and saw flames licking out from his roommates' door. The roommates were not home.

He rushed downstairs and out the door, with three of the dogs at his heels, Van Elgort said.

"Unfortunately, one of them ran in the wrong direction," he said.

Arriving crews found the bedroom fully involved at 8:47 p.m., and a second alarm was called because the area, off East Capitol Expressway and Silver Creek Road, has numerous multiunit homes and the threat of a fire spreading is great.

"It's a high-life area," Van Elgort said. "There are people everywhere, in nearby townhouses."

The fire was quickly knocked down, and crews went in to look for the fourth dog when notified it was missing. It had been overcome by smoke on the second floor, Van Elgort said.

"The second floor was heavily charged with smoke," he said. " No one is going to live up there."

Van Elgort said the cause appears to be accidental, and is under investigation.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.