MORTON, Pa. --Authorities have identified the couple killed in house fire in Morton, Delaware County.
Police say Theodore and Barbara Fine, both 58 years old and longtime residents of Morton, died in the blaze.
They were the owners of the Slack's Hoagie House in Springfield and Fine Choice Catering.
Firefighters rushed to the scene of a raging house fire on the 600 block of Cedar Lane just after 5 a.m. Saturday.
Police arrived first and tried to rescue two people inside.
"While doing so they found two victims just inside the front door at the bottom of the steps," said Morton-Rutledge Fire Chief Dean Kemp.
Kemp says the intense heat and flames prevented police and initially firefighters from reaching the husband and wife.
"My belief is they got down to the first floor, right inside the front doorway, and got a lung, breath full of super heated gas and smoke, and at that point were rendered unconscious," said Kemp.
Kenp says the fire started in the rear of the house, where a meat smoker was operating ahead of a planned weekend picnic. One propane tank ruptured and likely fueled the fire.
Neighbors and fellow business owners remember the Fines as a kind-hearted couple who supported their community. Signs inside their sandwich shop from local groups thank the couple for donating to various causes.
"They were good to the high schools, and they were just really nice to the people that came into the shop all the time," said Joanna Brune, neighbor.
"I go to her shop to get food all the time, and she likes us a lot so she comes to get her nails done here and she brings food here and things like that all the time," Long Le, business owner. "Very nice people."
The couple has two adult sons. Their impact on the community wasn't lost on those who tried desperately to save them.
"They were a key cornerstone in this community. There wasn't a time you couldn't reach out to them in a time of need," said Kemp.
Investigators are still looking into what caused the cooker to malfunction.
But the chief put out a warning, which is especially relevant this holiday weekend. He says don't grill or cook on a deck or within 20 feet of a house or other structure.