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Fire in Hibbing claims life of Benson child

HIBBING — A 9-year-old Benson boy died Tuesday as the result of a Hibbing house fire that also claimed the lives of two adults and injured two other juveniles.

A Gofundme memorial page has been set up in honor of Jacob Gillitzer, 9, of Benson, who died of his injuries.

Hibbing fire officials said Tuesday that two children were resuscitated by firefighters and later airlifted to a trauma center. The one who survived was being treated at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis for life-threatening injuries.

A third child who was outside the home when firefighters arrived was treated at a hospital in Hibbing. The two adults were pronounced dead at the scene.

While the Hibbing Fire Department has not yet identified any of the victims of the blaze, pending a medical examiner's report, the fundraising page says Jacob Gillitzer was killed in a house fire Dec. 26. The page also reports that Gillitzer's younger brother, Jonny, 7, was also in the fire and is currently being treated for smoke inhalation.

The boys' parents are identified on the fundraising page as Jahanna and Tom Wrobleski of Benson and Todd Gillitzer.

The adults killed in the fire were identified to Forum News Service by friends as Steven Gillitzer, 67, and Patricia Gillitzer, 63.

The third juvenile has not been identified, but family friends said all three children are grandchildren of the couple. The news release said the third child was in stable condition Tuesday.

According to the Hibbing Fire Department news release issued Tuesday, the department was called to the house fire around 1:37 a.m. Tuesday at 212 42nd St. E. in Hibbing. When firefighters arrived, they found one juvenile outside. Within four minutes of arriving on the scene, the firefighters were able to get the four other victims out of the home. The release said all four were pulseless and not breathing when removed from the house.

The two children were resuscitated by fire crews and then transported to the Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing, and then airlifted to a trauma center. The two adults did not survive the fire, the release said.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, 189 people have donated a total of $13,600 to the Jacob's Memorial Fund Gofundme page, which had a goal of $10,000 when it was started Tuesday. The page says the money raised will be used to help ease the financial burden the family is now facing.

The link for the page is https://www.gofundme.com/jacobsfunds. Donations can also be made at the Co-op Credit Union in Benson.

Forum News Service contributed to this report.

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