Allentown
50° F
Overcast
Overcast

Investigators pore over scene of fire that killed 4 people in Emmaus

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 18 2013 03:17:58 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 19 2013 07:03:29 AM CDT

Four killed in Emmaus fire

EMMAUS, Pa. -

Fire investigators have been poring over what's left of a burned-out duplex in Emmaus, Lehigh Co.

As the investigators search for clues in a massive apartment fire in Emmaus, we are learning more about the four people killed there Sunday.  Relatives say two of the victims, a mother and son, both suffered from disabilities.

Most residents inside the nine-unit duplex at 36-38 South Fifth Street were able to escape -- just barely.

"One of the girls did run out, and she seen smoke, and I did grab her and bring her in to our house," said neighbor Eric Ferrizzi.

But four did not make it out alive.  According to relatives, they include Melissa Twining, 48, and her 16-year-old son Montana, a special needs student at Emmaus High who suffered from epilepsy.

One friend who did not want to be identified was heartbroken at the news.

"He's a nice student and it's really sad that everything happened," she said.

Brooke Woomer escaped the fire with just seconds to spare.  She knew Montana Twining well.

"He was a sweet boy," she said.  "He was just like every other mentally-challenged kid.  They just want to have fun and enjoy their life."

Melissa Twining's family said her boyfriend David, who did not live in the house, also died.  The Lehigh County coroner is waiting for dental and DNA tests to come back before officially identifying the victims.

Woomer said her family has been offered plenty of help.

"We're getting stuff from the Red Cross and our schools are helping," she said.

A grief counseling team is in place at Emmaus High, according to East Penn School District superintendent Tom Seidenberger.

The fourth victim was named Maria, according to friends of her boyfriend, Bobby Taylor, a worker at a nearby McDonald's.  Taylor escaped the fire from the roof of the house, but was unable to save his girlfriend.

Back at the fire scene, the state police fire marshal spent the day combing through the house, but did not answer reporters' questions.  Once the initial investigation is done here, a backhoe sits ready to demolish what's left of the home.  Fire crews say the house is structurally unstable and nearby neighbors have been told to stay away.

"It was just a sad situation that happened and hopefully they will get to the bottom of it," said Ferrizzi.