(KMOV) – One man is dead and two others are in critical condition after a house caught fire in Mehlville early Tuesday morning.
According to authorities, four people were sleeping at a home near the intersection of Tesson Ferry and St. Simon around 1 a.m. when a 13-year-old girl woke up and noticed smoke.
The child ran to a neighbor’s house and they called authorities. Police arrived to the home and attempted to go inside, but heavy smoke forced them out.
Firefighters responded to the scene and quickly distinguished the one-alarm blaze before rescuing two adults and one child from the home.
One of the adults, 38-year-old Terry Gapsch, were transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The other adult and child, 79-year-old Georgetta Gapsch and 11-year-old Maci Gapsch, were hospitalized in critical condition.
The 13-year-old, Mia Gapsch, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
Authorities said the fire appeared to have started in the basement of the house. St. Louis County Police arson units were investigating the cause.
The Gapsch Family released a statement Tuesday night which can be seen below:
“Early this morning, our lives changed forever. It will be our belief in God, our love of family and our gratitude to the Mehlville Fire Protection District that will get us through this painful day and the weeks and months to come.
It’s our understanding that, sometime this morning, a fire broke out in Georgette Gapsch’s house. In that house were Georgette, 79, her grandson Terry (T.J.), 38, and his two daughters (Mia, 13, and Macy, 11).
We believe T.J. awakened Mia and guided her out of the house. She then ran to a neighbor’s house for help. It’s our understanding T.J. went back into the house and tried to rescue Macy.
T.J.’s uncle (Georgette’s son), a firefighter with the Mehlville Fire Protection District, was one of the first on the scene. He, along with the brave men and women of the Mehlville Fire Protection District and neighboring fire districts, help pull Georgette and Macy from the burning house while trying to distinguish the fire. T.J. died while trying to save the daughters he loved so dearly.
We would like to publicly thank the members of the Mehlville Fire Protection District, the Affton Fire Protection District and the officers of the St. Louis County Police Department who worked so hard and selflessly to help save our family members.
We also implore parents to talk to their children about fire safety, having a family plan and taking it seriously. We are so proud of Mia and her quick thinking to get help. Our focus now is to help, support and love these girls.”