The fire trapped Leroy Dunlap, 59, and Arthur Lee Harris, 46, inside the basement of the burning house at 128 Bridge St. around 7:30 a.m., police said. Firefighters found their bodies.
A friend of the men said it was a hopeless scene from the start.
"It looked like he didn't have a chance," Tasha Scriven said.
Four people managed to escape safely from the house. A seventh resident wasn't home at the time. The Red Cross has placed them in a nearby motel with volunteer nurses and mental health professionals on hand.
Police said the fire started in the basement, and they are still working with firefighters and the Wake County Fire Marshal's Office to figure out what caused it.