City fire marshals say a malfunctioning power strip is to blame for Sunday's fire in a Manhattan high-rise that killed one man and sent his husband to the hospital.
The fire began shortly after 11 a.m. inside an apartment on the 20th floor of The Strand apartment building located at 500 West 43rd Street in Hell's Kitchen.
Investigators say Michael Todd Cohen, 32, and Daniel McClung, 27, were found in the stairwell on the 31st floor.
McClung was taken to St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital where he later died.
Cohen is still recovering at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
The two men were apparently overcome by smoke.
Fire officials say residents of high-rise buildings like The Strand should not try to escape during a fire.
"If they would have just stayed put, they would have been okay," said FDNY Chief James Esposito. "The safest course of action is to stay put in these type of fireproof multiple dwellings. The fire generally will not extend."
Investigators say the fire was sparked by multiple outlets in an extension cord.
They say the person who lived inside the apartment had gone to the store and later returned to a smoke-filled room. That person fled but the door did not close, letting air in to continue feeding the flames.
It took firefighters nearly two hours to get the flames under control.
"When firefighters arrived on the floor, we had a very smoky floor, and we had considerable heat conditions on that floor," Esposito said.
Seven other people suffered minor injuries.
Building resident Steve Schalchlin said he understands what drove the two men to try to escape but noted he feels his life was saved because he just happened to read the sign that was permanently posted on his apartment door.
"Your first impulse is to hit the stairway and run," he said. "The sign says don't leave the apartment in case of a fire, that all of the floors and the floors and rooms are fire retardant or fire safe."
A friend tells NY1 the couple would have celebrated six months of marriage next week.
"It was really heartbreaking because they made it down to our floor, and then died on our floor, which means that if we had not read the instructions, if we had gone into the stairwell, we would have been right there by them and we would have died too," Schalchlin said.