LANCASTER -- After the rains came and went and the firefighters came and went, all that was left Monday of the house where Jacqueline and Nackim Omarsabrii lived was a ruin with a screen door that banged in the wind.
The couple, who would have been married seven years on March 2, died in an accidental fire that started behind the kitchen stove around 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning, said Stephen Blackwelder, Lancaster County fire marshal. It may be weeks before they know the cause of the fire, Blackwelder said.
Both were found on the floor of the bedroom. Carbon monoxide poisoning from the smoke caused their deaths, said Lancaster County Coroner Mike Morris.
The deaths stunned the neighborhood just south of the city limits, a hilly section with Brooklyn Avenue the main east/west drag. Skinny, numbered streets intersect Brooklyn, with most houses right up next to the road. The Omarsabriis lived and died at 965 12th St. Across the street lives a man named Riley Stevenson, whose son, Jeremiah Cousar, tried to get into the burning house to save the Omarsabriis.
"But it was just too late," Stevenson said. "Great neighbors. Super nice. People been stopping here, riding by, since Sunday morning. People know them around here. Most people know everybody else. Her people live over on 15th Street. His are on 17th Street."
Jacqueline, 39, was called Jackie forever -- her mother a Duncan, her father a Reid -- known to all as Jackie Shine after her first marriage. Some called her Jackie Shine until her death, and still did Monday. At the 15th Street house, not a long yell from the fire, is where her sister, Tammie Duncan, lives. There is a wreath on a porch pole.
Aunts and cousins and friends from St. Paul AME Church gathered to deal with death. A funeral home guest book sat on a lectern in the living room. Visitors signed in careful script.
Her son, Kevonte, just 13, sat there, too. An eighth-grader with a fine smile and nice manners. He made sure I spelled his name right. Then, he walked outside, maybe so he didn't have to hear people talk about his mother, nicknamed "Sunshine," in the past tense. Jackie also had a daughter, Jakiya, 19.
"Jackie worked for years at Leiner Health Products, a packaging team leader, then went to work for Shutterfly in Charlotte after Leiner closed," Tammie Duncan said. "She graduated from York Tech. She was in the Navy from 1988 to 1990. She was a dedicated parent. She loved to dress and look beautiful."
A cousin, Bishara Singleton, came in. She used to live in Tammie's house when Jackie and Nackim lived next door. They shared tears, meals and confidences for years.
"The most giving person you ever met," Singleton said.
Nackim Omarsabrii's older sister, Christine, lives at the corner of 17th Street and Brooklyn Avenue, maybe a hundred yards from Jackie's sister. His mother, Clementine Harris, sat in the living room near others from the family, next to that funeral home lectern and guest book just like at the other house. She was getting her hair done because funerals require it. She said her son, 35, was "a kind man, sentimental."
The porch was filled with family and friends. A porch pole had a wreath, too, just like the house two tiny blocks away.
Nackim, who as an adult changed his name from his birth name of Christopher Harris, worked for Tyson Foods in Monroe, N.C., family said. He hung the chickens up in the plant before they were processed. He had a 19-year-old daughter, Sharrona, and a 13-year-old daughter, Shaqueena, called "Queen" by everybody.
"My brother was a good man who loved his wife," Christine said.
Another sister, Letitia, knew Jackie before her brother and introduced them. The couple had its ups and downs, like all couples, Letitia said. But in the past few months, "they found peace as a couple," she said.
But that peace ended Sunday morning.
While the cause of the fire remains undetermined, what is determined is that a couple with four kids between them, who loved each other, are dead. And families, with the death wreaths on porches so close to the road you can almost reach out and touch them, will try to figure out how to go on without them.