Police have identified two people who died in a Chester County home early Saturday in a fire that was complicated by hoarding.
A. Katherine Schade, 64, and Gary Robert Schade, 67, were found on the first floor of their ranch-style house on Harmonyville Road in Warwick Township. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
"The extreme hoarding conditions inside the home and heavy fire load created many challenges and prolonged the firefighting efforts," Jason Brooks, deputy chief of the Twin Valley Fire Department, said in a statement.
The Chester County Coroner's Office will finish its autopsy report on the Schades in about three weeks.
The fire started in the basement. Police and fire officials are investigating the cause of the fire, which they said appears to be accidental.
Police notified the Philadelphia field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives about the fire. The agency has offered its help if needed, said Steven Bartholomew, the division's public information officer.
John J. Clifford of the State Police Fire Marshal Unit could not be reached Monday afternoon to comment on what prompted contact with the agency.
Dorothy Bean, 81, awoke before 2 a.m. Saturday when several neighbors called her about a fire.
"At first I thought it was my house, because it was so lit up and red," she said. "Then I realized, no, it's next door."
She went outside to look for the Schades, so she could comfort them as they watched their house burn. But when she did not find them and saw up close how the flames were shooting out of their windows, she knew they had not made it out.
"I'm just going to miss them," Bean said. "We were friends."
After Bean's husband died from cancer about six years ago, the couple often came over to eat dinner with Bean on her deck. She and the Schades alternated cooking.
Kathy Schade helped mow Bean's lawn and with whatever else she thought Bean needed or wanted done. She loved Misty, Bean's 7-pound toy poodle, Bean said.
Bean said Kathy Schade's adult son and some friends had been helping to clean up after the fire.
The blaze caused an estimated $325,000 in damage, police said.