Man tries to save friend who died in Endicott fire

By Erika Mahoney

January 13, 2014 Updated Jan 13, 2014 at 10:21 PM EST

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Officials continue to investigate Sunday's fatal fire at an Endicott apartment complex.

Emergency crews were called to 319 Exchange Avenue at around 5:45 in the morning.

They found Michael A. Kelley, 39, dead in front of his apartment, apartment 6, where the fire started. Now, candles and flowers are on the doorstep.

A man next door, Rasheen Smith, tried to rescue Kelley. Smith was staying at apartment 7, where his girlfriend lives, when the fire broke out.

Smith said he was startled by Kelley's fiance screaming for help. The fiance, Tasheane Johnson, told police she came home and discovered the fire.

Smith ran into the burning apartment to find Kelley.

"I seen the fire in the kitchen, toward the kitchen, it was cloudy in there," Smith said.

Smith said he spotted his friend, Michael Kelley, face down on the stairs.

"I just went in, grabbed him, I had him in my hands, I fell down, and I got back up, I don't know where I got the strength from, lift him and got him out of there."

Broome County fire investigators believe the fire started at the stove.

Broome County Senior Fire Investigator Jeff Winchell said they are investigating whether the stove was left on or if there was a problem with the appliance's control module.

Insurance investigators are expected to continue the investigation.

The complex is owned by Wayne Management, LLC. The company that manages the complex is R & M Management.

R & M hired First General of Southern New York to repair the apartments.

The owner of R & M said every apartment has a smoke detector. However, it is up to the tenants to replace the batteries and maintain them.

The owner said the couple who lived in apartment 6 did sign a document, agreeing to that.