Sheriff's officials investigate cause of fire that killed mother, daughter

Published Feb. 4, 2012

SEMINOLE — Authorities on Friday continued to investigate what caused a condo fire that killed a mother and her daughter Thursday night.

Firefighters were called to Twin Oaks condominiums about 6 p.m. Thursday after neighbors saw smoke and flames coming from Unit 143.

"When I came out, I could see the smoke," said Patsy Albury, who also lives in the 55-and-older complex at 11200 102nd Ave N. "(The fire) went on and on and on."

Authorities found resident Alice Haker, 97, unconscious outside. She was taken to a local hospital, where she died. Inside, they found the body of a second woman, who they suspect was Haker's disabled daughter, Marlene Schaffran, 72.

The two women lived together.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is investigating. Sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda on Friday said a cause had not yet been determined.

Meanwhile, those who knew the pair grappled with their deaths. By Friday afternoon, several bouquets of pink and white roses had been placed in front of the women's corner unit.

Counselors from Suncoast Hospital will be on hand Wednesday at the complex in case any residents want to talk, officials said.

Haker was well known around the community.

"Everybody around here called her the 'Sweeping Lady,' " Albury said, gesturing to the massive piles of leaves that fell from the many oak trees on the property. "Day and night she would sweep."

Though Haker had hearing and vision problems, she always found the energy to walk the more than 50 feet to the trash bin.

"She said she had to get out because she had to find something to do," Albury said.

But Haker did have another responsibility. Neighbors said she also cared for her daughter, who was in a wheelchair. Many said they admired her for that.

"It's very tragic," Albury said.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at or (727) 893-8643.