This is just such a shock,'' said Linda Haase, who lives on a ranch near the Armstrongs.
Donald Armstrong, a second-generation orange grower who helped open Pacific Rim markets to other area farmers, was found by firefighters in a hallway of his ranch house, in the 800 block of Ventura Street, where he collapsed while trying to flee the 11 p.
His wife, Deborah Armstrong, 47, was found in the living room, and was pronounced dead at the scene from severe burns and smoke inhalation.
Investigators speculated that Deborah Armstrong may have fallen asleep while smoking in the living room, accidentally igniting the fire.
Colleagues and neighbors in the close-knit community south of Fillmore described Donald Armstrong as an innovative businessman and grower, and a dedicated son and father.
The Armstrongs report that their costs have increased dramatically in relation to revenue.
Over-capacity in the industry - Report on Business reported an increase of 3,753 trucks in Ontario from 1986 to 1988 - has also forced carriers such as the Armstrongs to become more customer-driven.
James and Peter Armstrong of Armstrong the Mover in Thunder Bay agree that the industry must improve its efficiency in order to survive.
Peter Armstrong calculates that computers have allowed the company to do 40-per-cent more business with the same number of people.
It was a desire to computerize that led Armstrong the Mover to end a 43-year relationship with one Toronto-based company last year in favor of becoming an agent for United Van Lines.