RAYBURN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — One man is dead following a fire in Armstrong County Thursday night.

Firefighters were called around 10 p.m. to an apartment building on Route 85 in Rayburn Township.

The victim lived on the first floor in building A of the Rayburn Manor Apartments. He has been identified as 55-year-old Howard Louis Hopper.

The fire was contained to his kitchen, but Hopper was found in his bedroom.

“It’s terrible, I never had a situation like this and I’m nervous about it,” said Kathleen Goodgasell, who lives in the apartment above Hopper’s.

She smelled smoke and called 911.

“I saw everybody else,” said Goodgasell, “but I didn’t see him and that’s when everybody was saying he was still in there.”

The coroner says Hopper’s cause of death was smoke inhalation and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Friends and family of the victim came by the apartment Friday morning when they learned of his death, including a childhood friend.

“He’d do anything for anybody, good kid, good guy,” said Earl Blake.

One friend said many people never forgave Hopper for killing a man in a bar fight 20 years ago, in Ford City. Hopper was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and sentenced to prison.

The state police fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire.

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