The blaze started just before 11:15 p.m. on Summerville Lane in the Treyburn subdivision, off Vintage Hill Parkway.
When firefighters arrived, a woman met them outside and told them she believed someone was still inside the three-story home.
Firefighters tried to go in through a second-story window, but the flames were too intense.
Crews were able to get the fire under control around midnight and found 52-year-old William Michael Logan's body on the second floor.
North Carolina Central University said Logan was a construction engineer in Facilities Management who had worked at the school for 23 years.
Investigators said they believe the fire started accidentally, and may have been related to smoking materials.
The home was heavily damaged in the blaze.
Johnson O. Akinleye, interim chancellor at NCCU, released a statement following the news of Logan's death:
Dear Eagle Community,
As the semester comes to end, I am saddened to announce the loss of another member of our Eagle family. Mr. Michael Logan, a construction engineer in Facilities Management, passed away yesterday evening during a fire at his home in Durham County. The fire started after 11 p.m. and heavily damaged much of the home. It is believed to have started accidentally. The Durham Fire Department is investigating.
Many of us knew Mike as he worked on a number of projects across campus during the 23 years that he was employed at North Carolina Central University. He started as a hazardous waste program specialist in 1994 and also served as an interim director of Health and Safety. He began working for the University of North Carolina system in 1989. Mike attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Please keep Mike's family in your thoughts and prayers, including Brenda Logan, an NCCU employee, his mother and other family members, friends and colleagues. We will share details on the funeral arrangements once they become available.