‘I wish there was more I could’ve done:’ Neighbor recalls friends killed in fire

Posted at 9:24 PM, Dec 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-26 23:18:18-05

SALEM TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Catherine Stone called 911 shortly after she spotted the flames coming out the roof of her friend's mobile home next door to her own home.

Firefighters arrived on scene around 7:30 a.m. Friday to the home located in the 4300 block of Coyote Lane near 144th and 26th Street.

Stone said she watched as first responders rushed into the burning structure trying to save her two friends still inside.

But despite rescuer's best efforts, with firefighters performing CPR, the two did not survive. Firefighters said both were found not far from each other in the home near the back sliding door.

“I still can’t believe it, I’m still in disbelief," she said. “It does feel unreal because it’s like... you just want to go in (and help) but you can’t.”

Brenda Lee Metcalf. (courtesy photo)

Brenda Lee Metcalf. (courtesy photo)

Investigators identified 55-year-old Brenda Lee Metcalf as one of the victims killed Friday morning. Authorities said they are still waiting to officially identify the second victim, a 54-year-old man, pending notification of the family.

The two victims were a couple, according to Stone, who said Metcalf and the man had been dating for about 20 years. The group met while living in the Jackson area 20 years ago. Metcalf and her boyfriend eventually moved in next door to Stone about six years ago, she said.

“I’m just I’m a bundle of nerves … and I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet," Stone said, adding she was happy they had all just had the chance to celebrate Christmas together this past Sunday.

Stone's bedroom window faces the now burned-out home. She says she's bothered by the thought of wishing she could've done more to help save her friends' lives.

“I guess what upsets me the most is I have blankets over my window and my bedroom’s right here and if I didn’t have blankets I might’ve seen it sooner," Stone said.

"I don’t blame myself for it but I just wish I would’ve seen it sooner. I just feel helpless and wish there was more I could’ve done.”

A full investigation is planned to get underway Monday to determine what sparked the fire.