One Dead, Two Injured In South City Fire

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SOUTH ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- One person was found dead in a house fire in south St. Louis. Two other were injured.  Flames broke out shortly before 4:00am Saturday in a two-family flat on Giles, near the intersection of Grand and Gravois.

Pastor Tom Ressler lived in the parsonage next to the St. Paul United Church of Christ on Giles Avenue and Potomac Street.

 "About 5 ‘til four [a.m.], one of the upstairs neighbors ran up and was pounding on our door.”

 The 2-family flat next door was burning.  The pastor knew almost instantly.

  "We could feel the heat from our kitchen,” Ressler remembered.  “There wasn't much we could do, because the fire department was here right away."

 St. Louis firefighters found two people on the first floor.

 “…and removed them to the outside of the building,” explained fire captain Dan Sutter.  “They were placed in the care of fire department medics and transported from the scene, believed to be in critical condition."

A third victim died in the back of the apartment.

Marlon Johnson's daughter, Marlene, had just turned 21.

 "She called me last night,” Marlon stood outside the house in tears.  “Said that she was spending the night over here, because they were just coming off the boat."

He looked for Marlene, hoping she was one of the survivors.  Then, a fire department investigator called Marlon over for a talk.

 "Thank God!” Marlon cried.

 Marlene was at the hospital.

 "Ooh that's a relief there,” a friend said, grabbing Marlon around the shoulders. 

A woman, who would only tell us her name was Christine, lost her second-floor apartment.  But, she came home from work and found her roommate, the roommate’s two children and the dog alive on sidewalk. 

"Our smoke detectors woke them up,” Christine explained.  “And, they grabbed their coats and their shoes and they came on out the house."

Christine looked at the charred home.

"We were working on trying to move,” she said.  “This wasn't how we planned to do it, but now it's an emergency situation."

She looked down at her dog Beyonce, and knew one thing:

"We'll be okay.  We'll be okay."

There is no word on the cause of the fire but it is under investigation.

The St. Louis City Fire Department will deliver and install a smoke detector in your home, free of charge.  Just call (314)289-1905.  You can also email Captain Paul Davis at  Please include the property owner's name, address, phone number, number of floors including basement, and number of occupants.

Click here for the city of St. Louis' smoke detector program.

 The Red Cross is helping the families in this fire. Donate to the American Red Cross.  

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