MORTON TWP.. PA (WTXF) - A closed for business sign on the front door of a Slack's Hoagie Shack does not begin to describe the weight of this local tragedy.
Saturday morning the owners of the Baltimore Pike business were found dead inside their Delaware County home. Fire officials say vicious flames engulfed their property in a matter of minutes.
"They were a key cornerstone of this community there wasn't a time u couldn't reach out to them in a time of need," said Chief Dean Kemp of Morton Fire Company.
Unfortunately, there was nothing the community could do to save 58 year olds Barbara and Ted Fine, despite rescue attempts by a neighbor and first responders.
The couple was found just inside their front door, lying at the bottom of the stairs.
"My belief is they got down to the first floor inside the doorway and got a breathful of superheated gas and smoke and at that point were rendered unconscious and succumbed to smoke," Chief Kemp explained.
"We made numerous attempts to pull the victims from that front area but flames and intense heat didn't allow us to get any closer," Officer Lucky of the Morton Police Department explained.
Friends, neighbors, and co-workers jumped at the chance to tell FOX 29's Jennifer how kind, and selfless the couple was to loved ones and strangers alike.
One friend and former employee shared a Facebook photo of Barbara and Ted while they were on vacation.
While fire officials can't say for sure how the fire started they believe it originated in the back yard where there is a smoker a grill and several propane tanks believed to be in use.
"One propane cylinder did rupture which would've led to rapid growth and deployment of the fire early on," Chief Kemp explained.
The chief says the Fines were preparing food for a holiday party this weekend. Now, grieving friends and family are stopping by to see for themselves the devastation that claimed this well-respected couple's lives.