NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - A man died Wednesday, shortly after firefighters pulled him from his burning Newport News apartment.
Neighbors in the 1500 block of Montery Place say they smelled the smoke, but couldn't find the fire.
"We only smelled smoke," said Deonte Parker, a neighbor. "We didn't see flames or anything."
A neighbor who could smell the smoke in her apartment called firefighters to come inspect the complex. When crews arrived on scene, they determined the smoke was coming from the apartment next door.
When firefighters entered the apartment, they found a man in an upstairs bathroom. He was transported to Mary Immaculate Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly before 10 a.m.
Officials with Bon Secours identified the victim as Robert M. Coen, 56, of Newport News. His cause of death has not been determined.
Fire officials say a cigarette started the fire in Coen's home, which has been condemned.
Coen's sister, Linda Daucette, spoke exclusively with WAVY News 10. She said she was very close to her little brother - living just 10 minutes away from him.
"I just love him," said Daucette. "He's my baby brother. I just love him to death."
Daucette says she and Coen moved to Hampton Roads from Philadelphia 30 years ago.
She told WAVY.com Coen worked at the James River Country Club as a bartender, noting his outgoing, friendly personality.
"He was just totally fantastic," said Daucette. "He always helped us, helped send my youngest to college. He was just a good all-around guy."
Daucette says Coen was a proud Navy veteran, who wanted to be buried at sea. She hopes to make that happen.
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