Whittier Couple Married 64 Years Killed In House Fire

WHITTIER (CBS) — A life-long love story came to a tragic end in Whittier when an elderly couple died in a fire at their home.

On Friday, flames engulfed the home of Ron and Peg Wanke, both 88 years old.

Their neighbor, Jesse Maldonado, said there were no signs of a fire at the home on Orange Drive until it was too late. Although he ran for the hose when he saw smoke at the back window and yelled for help, flames had already engulfed the home.

“I’m going in the house… when I opened the backdoor smoke was just all over and I went in like two feet, I had to back out because I couldn’t breathe,” he told CBS2.

Mrs. Wanke passed away Saturday morning after being hospitalized with severe burns. Police said her husband didn’t make it out alive.

The fire, still under investigation, is suspected to be electrical.

Neighbors said Mrs. Wanke was bed-ridden from a broken hip and her husband lost his life trying to save her.

“He was unable to help her and didn’t want to leave the house without her,” Neighbor Jacqueline Hernandez said.

They are remembered as the couple sitting on their porch together, gardening together and always walking hand-in-hand.

“They were very kind. They always say ‘hello’ as they walk together. They were a couple to be admired. They grew up to their elderly years together,” Hernandez added.

The Wankes were married 64 years.

They leave behind four children, 11 grandchildren, several great grandchildren and many neighbors and friends who say life just won’t be the same without them.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Jim Zimmer says:

    A very sad story. Hopefully, they are now in a better place without pain and suffering.

  2. Neny says:

    This is so sad…. ;0(. God bless their families and relatives.. My condolences for your loss..😦

  3. The World We Live In says:

    Sad but bitter sweet. At least they were together.

  4. Karen says:

    How sad. I am so sorry for their families’ loss.

  5. LuvLeeRita says:

    As sad and tragic as this story is, the fact that they died together is something they probably wouldn’t have any other way. And in a strange sense it most likely gives comfort to those they loved that at least they are together in heaven.

  6. Grandson says:

    My papa was a dedicated and able caregiver to my grandma in addition to the constant family that watched over them.

    1. The Viramontes Family says:

      Words fall short of expressing our sorrow. I am so sorry for “Seas” comment. This is a horrible and tragic accident that could have happend to anyone. No one is to blame. Please accept our condolences.

  7. John says:

    Together forever with God.

  8. DB says:

    how tragic but if there’s any consolation to this is at least they died together. they are now in a much better place. RIP.

  9. DB says:

    how tragic but if there’s any consolation to this is at least they died together. RIP.

  10. KG says:

    I really wouldn’t call that “free money.” Imagine losing your parents in such a way and then having people make comments like that anonymously online. I’m not sure what your comment actually contributes – Such moronic, insensitive comments are pretty unnecessary.

  11. Patrick says:

    In hard economic times like these
    Its insensitive but you are correct

    1. Nisey says:

      Nobody knows what their situation is. These comments are completely inappropriate! Have some respect.

  12. Nisey says:

    I agree–this has nothing to do with lack of care issues…it was an electrical problem…a totally random incident that could happen to anyone at anytime! It sounds like they had a very caring family an neighbors who all loved them very much!

  13. KORRINNE GOMEZ says:

    I DID’NT KNOW THE COUPLE BUT MYTEACHER DR. CAVANAUGH DID MY DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY AND FRIENDS THEY LEFT BEHIND. MAY GOD GIVE YOU STRENGTH AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME. AND TO MY TEACHER I FEEL YOUR LOSS. I WILL KEEP YOU IN MY PRAYERS.

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