ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – A house fire will scar a South County family for the rest of their lives. Four people lived in the home at 10005 St. Simon. When it was over 38-year-old Terry Gapsch was dead. It was his 13-year-old daughter who ran to get help when she awoke around 1am on Tuesday.
Neighbor Cathy Enz has known the family for many years. “Shock, sadness especially when it so close to your home, it’s one of your neighbors, just really hits you hard,” she said.
Authorities think it began in the basement. A cause has not yet been determined. Thirteen- year old Mia Gapsch ran next door for help. Police tried to get in, but the smoke was too much. Maci Gapsch, 11, was rescued by firefighters and rushed to the hospital. So was the grandmother, 79-year-old Georgetta Gapsch. Neighbors said the girls’ mother had died not long ago after a battle with cancer. And now their father is gone.
Cathy Enz said, “It was tragic. They lost mom a couple years ago, so he was a single dad. We love him as the hero. He was this morning to try to go back in the building. We know him as a loving father, trying to do the best he could to support his girls as a single parent.”
Investigators with the county’s arson unit are investigating. The squad is called out anytime there is a residential fire with injuries. At this time, there’s no reason to believe arson was involved.
Neighbors also said the family has ties to Mehlville firefighters. The chief did not want to comment. He only said, “This is a particularly hard time for his department.” The girls attend Sperreng Middle School where teachers and counselors were ready to help students cope with the tragedy.
Enz added, “Loving family fun family, Mrs. Gapsch was the grandma and she was always busy with the girls and they were out in the streets walking the dogs, riding bikes.
Georgetta Gapsch has died at the hospital. Maci was in serious condition and 13 year old Mia suffered minor injuries.
The family’s three dogs and a hamster died. Firefighters rescued the other hamster and are caring for it.
The Lindbergh Schools Foundation has set up a fund to support the family of Mia and Maci Gapsch, who lost their father in a house fire this morning, and also lost their home. People who are interested in supporting the family can do so in two ways:
1. Click on the link below and follow instructions to donate online:
2. Mail a check, made payable to “Lindbergh Schools Foundation,” to Lindbergh Schools Foundation, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63126. Please write “Gapsch Family Fund” in the memo line.