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Wildfires claim lives of local family - Albia Newspapers: News

Wildfires claim lives of local family

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Posted: Friday, October 20, 2017 9:16 am

Special from

the Moravia Union

Local residents watch reports of the California wildfires on the evening news. The almost surreal devastation of entire neighborhoods, entire communities makes the natural disaster hard to comprehend.

But now it has hit home.

Last week, Kathy Kerr, Moravia branch manager of Iowa Trust & Savings Bank, learned that her aunt and uncle were victims of one of the northern California fires. The 80-year-old couple perished while trying to escape their home as uncontrolled flames raced through their neighborhood of Santa Rosa, west of Sacramento and the Napa Valley area. Early evacuations had not been issued for their streets, as the fires seemed to be moving away from them. But, in the night, the 50-70 mile-per-hour winds shifted and flames consumed scores of homes in a short amount of time. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued over telephone landlines, but by then many of the phone lines were no longer working.

Leroy and Madonna (Kearney) Halbur had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August. Both were college graduates, had impressive careers, were devout members of their church and were known as kind and generous people.

Her family moved from Melrose to Albia when she was a small child, and she graduated from Albia High School in 1955. Leroy was a native of Roselle, in west central Iowa.

Madonna’s brother is Cecil Kearney, her sister is Marcella Kearney and Kenny Kearney and Karen Kearney are a nephew and niece. All are from Albia.

Services will be held both in their Santa Rosa Church and at St. Joseph’s Church in Des Moines.

© 2017 Albia Newspapers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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