Retired Fire Captain Dies Trying to Save Grandkids from Fire

HIBBING, Minn. — A retired fire captain and his wife have died after trying to rescue their grandchildren from their burning home. Two of their grandchildren also died in the fire.

According to the Hibbing Fire Dept., retired Fire Department Captain, 67-year old Steven Jon Gillitzer, and his wife, Patricia, 63, were at home while attempting to rescue their grandchildren in 20-below temperatures. Nine-year-old Todd Jacob Gillitzer Jr., Jonathon Steven Gillitzer, 8, and 3-year-old Isaiah Anteus Adams were visiting their grandparents.

According to authorities, Gillitzer was alerted to the fire and rushed into action to save the family. The statement also said 8-year old Jonathon remembers his grandfather throwing him out the front door to safety.

“Captain Gillitzer then turned his attention to trying to save the rest of the family. He never emerged from the structure,” the fire department said.

Crews arrived on scene and rescued four victims from inside of the home, including two adults and two juveniles. Todd Jr. and Isaiah, who were being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, died because of the fire.

Gillitzer served as a firefighter and paramedic for 25 years before retiring in Dec. 2000.