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Fatal fire: 7-year-old fire victim identified; sister, grandmother escape

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MEHLVILLE, MO (KTVI) - A seven year-old boy lost his life in an overnight fire in Mehlville.  It happened early Monday morning on the 700 block of Hinder Drive.  Now, the tight-knit neighborhood is devastated.

Just after midnight, neighbor Lynn Boland called 911 as soon as her sister saw flames and heard screaming.  She says, “I had gotten outside and saw the 70 year-old grandmother who lives in this house down on the ground, she had just jumped from a 2-story window.”
 
St. Louis County Police say the grandmother, Elizabeth Sanders, broke her right heel as she fell. Meanwhile, 13 year-old Angela Davis and her brother, Brian, tried to escape the burning home.  At some point they got separated, and only Angela got out. Their parents were not home at the time.
 
Boland recalls, “They finally got the little boy outand I saw him get carried away, and they put him on a gurney and took him away.  I heard the newsand it’s very sad what happened because he’s a sweet, sweet little boy.”
 
Seven year-old Brian Davis was pronounced dead at St. Anthony’s Medical Center less than an hour later.  Police say he wasn’t burned, but died from smoke inhalation.
 
Neighbor Millie Hea says this tragedy comes after the boy’s grandmother lost her husband last year. Now, her home of 35 years is gone, along with her precious grandson.
 
Hea says, “Brian was such a sweet little kid, so friendly, my gosh, he visited every neighbor, he never failed to say hi, even if he was down at his houseand I was three houses away he would never fail to say hi, Millie.”
 
All morning, crime tapesurrounded the home as the Bomb and Arson Unit conducted their investigation.  Meanwhile, Hea is desperate to know what caused the fire, desperate for some sort of closure: “Poor Liz, poor little Angela, losing her brother. What could have happened?”
Mehlville Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost sent the following letter home to parents Monday:"Dear Parents and Community Members:I’m sending this message to share news of a sad and very unfortunate event which occurred in our school community. This morning we were informed of a tragic house fire that claimed the life of Brian Davis, a second grader at Bierbaum Elementary School. We are all deeply saddened by his death.We have shared and discussed this information with other students at Bierbaum Elementary today.  Bereavement counselors, teachers and other support staff have been and will continue to be available to all students, teachers and parents.  Please contact the school if you have any questions or concerns.Parents in our district, and especially those with children who knew Brian, may want to talk to your children about death. Kids react to such tragedies in a variety of ways depending on many things including their age, their prior experience with deathand if they actually knew Brian.  It is common for children to appear unaffected or to ask a lot of questions. They may appear angry or aggressive, withdrawn or moody, sad or depressed, or, they may become afraidand in some cases have difficulty sleeping or eating. Please understand and realize all thesereactions are normal. Regardless of your child’s response, be prepared to listen and answer their questions in a simple and honest manner. It’s not uncommon for children to ask the same questions repeatedly.

We will work together as a school community to care for the family and all who are affected by Brian’s death. Bierbaum Elementary maintains a very compassionateand nurturing environment filled with adults who care deeply about all children. As we work through this sad news we should all keep our thoughts and prayers with the Davis family.

Sincerely,
Dr. Eric D. Knost"