SAN LEANDRO -- Crews battling a two-alarm house fire Monday found a marijuana grow and rescued two dogs, authorities said, but two other canines died and three remained missing hours later.

The blaze broke out just before 10 a.m. at a three-story, two-garage home at 2079 Altamont Road, near Darius Way, according to the owner, 46-year-old Ken Gee. Both Gee and neighbors said an explosion preceded the fire, which sent smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the air.

Firefighters were dispatched at 9:56 p.m. to the home, after neighbors reported seeing heavy smoke and fire, said Alameda County Fire Department spokeswoman Aisha Knowles.

When crews arrived, they found the home ablaze. Inside, they discovered dozens of marijuana plants on the lowest level of the home, and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office was called to investigate.

Narcotics agents found nearly 50 marijuana plants in a basement-type room, said Sheriff's Office Sgt. J.D. Nelson. As of mid-Monday afternoon, Gee had not been arrested.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, said Fire Department Battalion Chief John Walsh.

Tony Jenkins, who lives next door to Gee, said he heard an explosion, looked out a window and saw heavy smoke coming from his neighbor's home.

"It sounded like a bomb going off," said Jenkins, 46,

A few houses down, DirecTV employee David Jaber was finishing an installation when he heard screaming.

"I saw him (Gee) standing outside his front door, yelling his head off," said Jaber, 42. "He was trying to call 911 but couldn't get through, so I dialed the number for him. He ran back into his home to get his dogs. I was so scared, praying he was going to tell me there wasn't someone else inside. I was relieved when he said he was in there alone."

Crews, who smelled of marijuana after the blaze, controlled the fire in 30 minutes and extinguished it by 10:45 a.m., Walsh said. Crews prevented the fire from spreading to the home next door.

Gee stood with his wife on the street outside his burning home Monday and said he had been on an upper floor of the ¿house when he heard an explosion on one of the lower levels.

"I heard a boom," said Gee, who said he has lived in the home with his wife since 2009. "It was so fast, and the fire just came, so I ran out."

After he ran outside, Gee realized two of his seven dogs were still inside and ran back to get them. He found one -- a mini-Doberman Pinscher named Lucky, but said the dog scrambled loose from his grasp and ran back into the home.

alameda county fire dogs rescured
Two dogs were rescued by Alameda County Fire from a home on fire on the 2000 block Altamont Road in San Leandro, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. All residents were accounted for. (Alameda County Fire via Twitter)

That dog was found dead inside, and another one died later from its injuries. Gee said he suffered burns on his arms trying to rescue the dog but was otherwise OK. No one else was injured, authorities said.

Gee spoke with reporters before the marijuana plants were discovered and was unavailable for comment after deputies arrived.

The fire damaged all three levels of the home, along with the roof and attic, Walsh said. As of late Monday, the remaining three dogs, who were outside the home when the blaze broke out, remained unaccounted for.

Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469 and follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund. Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.