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Two die in Schenectady house fire


Two die in Schenectady house fire

Two people died in a house fire in Mont Pleasant Tuesday morning.
Two die in Schenectady house fire
Shatiya Melendez, 17, wipes away tears from her face at the scene of the fatal fire at 1134 6th Avenue Tuesday, July 19, 2016.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Two people died in a house fire in Mont Pleasant Tuesday morning.

A fire broke out at a single-family home around 5:45 a.m. at 1134 6th Ave., according to Fire Chief Ray Senecal.

The fire was heavily involved by the time firefighters arrived, Senecal said.

There were seven people in the house at the time. Three jumped from second-floor windows and were sent to Ellis Hospital with minor injuries, Senecal said.

Two got out unharmed. Two people did not escape the blaze and died inside, Senecal said. Schenectady police said autopsies would be done at Albany Medical Center Wednesday afternoon. The names of the victims would not be released until then.

Family and friends identified the 5-year-old as Neytirea Manasse and 26-year-old as Tyreese Douglas.

Sisters Shatiya Melendez, 17, and Naszay Stergis, 16, who live at the home, said their sister, 5, and their uncle, 26, did not make it out of the house.

Stergis was sleeping when the fire erupted. Melendez said she was not home at the time.

“We were sleeping and I saw smoke,” Stergis said. “I woke up and saw flames in the kitchen. I tried to go upstairs.”

She said her brother and her mother got out safely after failing to rescue her sister and uncle from upstairs.

“My little sister, my uncle … we couldn’t get to,” Stergis said.

Stergis said she lived in the house with her two sisters, brother, mother and two uncles.

Melendez said she rushed to the house after her boyfriend’s mom told her about the fire and brought her to the scene.

Stergis said the family would be staying at her grandmother’s house. They lived at 1134 6th Ave. for about two years.

Philomen Henry, who lives down the street, said she would see the man who died in the fire walking around the neighborhood. She said he was disabled after being hit by a car several years ago.

“He was nice,” Henry said. “We used to be at the library all the time.”

Henry brought a candle for him and placed it at a small memorial that started forming Tuesday afternoon across the street from the destroyed home.

Children who live on 6th Avenue also placed teddy bears and bunnies around several candles lit on the sidewalk.

Carmen Y. Torres said she was friends with the man who died. She said Crane Street wouldn’t be the same without him.

“I’m in shock,” she said. “I heard about the fire but I wasn’t sure if he was here. Everybody loved him in the neighborhood.”

Torres said he was a kid at heart, and often asked fire trucks and motorcycles that drove by to honk their horns.

She said if he wasn’t handicapped he probably would have gotten himself and the little girl out safely.

“My thoughts are he was probably trying to help get his niece out because that’s the type of person he was,” she said.

She added, with tears rolling down her cheeks, “You will be missed, buddy. Lova ya.”

A woman who lives across the street, who declined to be identified, said the man used to say “Yo!” a lot to everyone, and that’s how they knew him best.

“The little girl was a sweetheart and the uncle was helpful to everyone,” she said. “The little girl had a Mickey Mouse voice and was funny and spoke to everyone.”

She said her son saw the fire Tuesday morning before she took him to daycare.

“He was shaken up,” she said. “You have to comfort them and let them know it’s going to be OK.”

She said the family was very loving.

“They are very nice people to have as neighbors,” she said. “Hopefully we get some answers and find peace.”

The cause of the fire is unclear at this time. Senecal said it’s not considered suspicious. The fire appears to have started on the first floor, possibly in the kitchen, according to family and neighbors.

The area of 6th Avenue was blocked to traffic for most of the day as investigators searched inside the home and went door-to-door interviewing neighbors.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the Schenectady Fire and Police Departments in the investigation.

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