Retired fire captain dies trying to save grandkids from fire
Steven Jon Gillitzer and his wife died while attempting to rescue their three grandchildren from the home
By FireRescue1 Staff
HIBBING, Minn. — A retired fire captain and his wife died after trying to rescue their grandchildren from their burning home.
MPR News reported that retired Hibbing Fire Department Captain Steven Jon Gillitzer and his wife, Patricia, were at home with their three visiting grandchildren, Todd Gillitzer Jr., Jonathon Gillitzer and Isaiah Adams, when a fire broke out.
"Gillitzer was alerted to the fire and rushed into action to save the family," HFD said in a statement.
The statement also said that Jonathon, 8, “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.
Four other victims were rescued from the home by crews that arrived on scene. Todd Jr. and Isaiah, 9 and 3, died at the hospital from injuries sustained in the fire.
"This is a difficult time for our department and community as we rally together to work through this tragic event," the department said. "We continue to offer support and resources to the family and we continue to work though processing the scene to try and identify what caused this fire."
Gillitzer served as a firefighter and paramedic for 25 years before retiring in Dec. 2000.