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St. Louis firefighters mourning death of Capt. John Kemper

ST. LOUIS – First responders are mourning the death of a St. Louis City fire captain. John Kemper died just days after being injured fighting a fire last week. He was one of four firefighters taken to the hospital the night of July 4-July 5.

Flags are flying at half staff at St. Louis Fire Department Headquarters are black bunting is draped on the front of the building to honor Captain Kemper. A special team of investigators went back to the scene of the fire Thursday.

A three-member team, including the chief investigator, was at the two-story vacant house on Pennsylvania Avenue in south St. Louis. The team was taking notes and pictures of the house and of fireworks debris spotted in the backyard and in a gangway. One investigator went just a few feet inside the building. He couldn’t go any further because of the unstable condition of the structure.

Captain Kemper was with Engine Company 23 that responded to the fire early on the morning of July 5. He was injured and hospitalized with what was believed to be a shoulder injury and discharged from the hospital. He died at home Wednesday.

Fire authorities are calling it an “in the line of duty” death. Fire Captain Garon Mosby said a preliminary report from the special investigative unit may be available Friday. So far, Kemper’s cause of death is unresolved, but fireworks may have contributed to the blaze. An autopsy is scheduled.