UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI) - A space heater started a house fire that claimed the lives an elderly woman and her two great-grandchildren in University City.
According to the University City Fire Department, the fire occurred at a residence at Roth Avenue and Bartmer on Wednesday.
Firefighters entered the burning house and pulled 78-year-old Mamie Williams, eight-year-old Kaliyah Dunger, and four-year-old Trevion Dunger from the upstairs. Efforts to revive them failed. All three were pronounced dead at local hospitals.
Fire chief Adam Long praised his two captains, Blair Watts and Darren Chavez, who found the unconscious victims on the second floor.
"They made a gallant effort, because the footage I've seen, the home was just engulfed in flames and smoke, so they really gave it their all, but unfortunately they were just too late," Chief Long said.
The children lived in Jennings with their mother, Krystal Bady. Williams, their great grandmother, was watching them while their mother worked a night shift.
Four other relatives, including one of Williams' daughters, Wanda Clopton, got out of the house safely.
Jamelle Clopton said he went back inside the home twice before police arrived trying to find Williams, whom he identified as his grandmother.
"I felt my grandmother's hand and I tried to guide her down the steps, but it was too much smoke and fire so I had to run back out, get some more fresh air, that's when the police arrived and as I was going to go back in the house they told me no."
Firefighters said there were no working smoke alarms in the home. Chief Long urged residents to contact their local fire department if they need smoke alarms or even batteries for them.