Mahanoy City Officials: Firewall Saved Others

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MAHANOY CITY---Flowers fluttered in the breeze in front of Morris and Adele Seabra's home in Mahanoy City Monday evening. The place is a burned out shell now. Early Saturday, the rowhome caught fire.

Fire officials said it started on the ground level and quickly spread all the way through the home. The homeowners and a house guest were rescued from the flames, but Seabras did not survive.

"They were like family. I was there every morning for coffee and every night before we went to bed we talked, it's just even too hard to describe," said neighbor Wanda Grutza.

Grutza still cannot believe her friends are gone. While they could not be saved, she credits the brick firewall of the Seabras home for saving dozens of other lives. Without it, fire officials said the blaze could easily have spread to other rowhomes.

"It certainly would have been worse, a lot worse," said Fire Chief Randy Kalce, of the brick firewall of the Seabra's home.

The Seabras were all too familiar with fire. Acording to their son, the couple suffered 4 fires at homes since 1979, including a blaze in 1996 that damaged 9 homes total forcing 25 people out.

Jean Kressler lives next door to the Seabras. They were her landlords and she said she is thankful for the firewall that kept her safe.

"Oh, very grateful, oh very grateful. We just got smoke damage, so I'm just glad that was it. I feel very bad that they lost their lives for it. "

Fire investigators said there is too much damage here to determine exactly what caused the fire. People who live nearby said whatever sparked the blaze, they believe firewall saved lives.

"I just wish I could have got my friends out," said Grutza.