Neighbors tried saving 91-year-old who died in St. Louis County house fire


ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — When a fire broke out at a home in south St. Louis County, neighbors said they rushed to save a 91-year-old woman inside the residence — but they could not get to her in time.

Helen Roeslein died in the fire, which happened in the 5000 block of Peyton Place Court around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18.

“It was a rough night, our entire street was lined with emergency vehicles,” said neighbor Jake Hrevus, who lives next door.

Hrevus said his wife went outside to their dog in from the backyard when she noticed a bright light.

“Next thing you know, she pokes her head out and says the house next door is on fire, get the kids out of our house, call 911,” said Hrevus.

He said he tried to save his 91-year-old neighbor as flames billowed through the roof.

“We came up to the front porch and tried to beat down the door, and the smoke was just too suffocating and thick to stand there for more than a few seconds,” Hrevus said.

Firefighters rushed to the scene and found the home engulfed in flames. They put the fire out and found Roeslein dead near the front of her home, exactly one week before Christmas.

“All of this happening the week of Christmas is a tough thing for neighbors, friends, and families,” Hrevus said. “Helen was a really great neighbor and a really nice lady, and she’ll be missed.”

Neighbors said family members had been at the home trying to salvage any items they could. A memorial with flowers can now be seen outside her home.

The St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit is investigating, but preliminary reports show the fire was accidental. The Mehlville Fire Protection District said it could be weeks to months until the full investigation is complete.

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