Update: Hibbing house fire claims life of Benson boy, young cousin, grandparents
HIBBING — A 9-year-old Benson boy died Tuesday as the result of a Hibbing house fire that also claimed the lives of his grandparents and a 3-year-old cousin, while injuring his younger brother.
A Gofundme memorial page has been set up in honor of Todd Jacob Gillitzer Jr., 9, of Benson, who died of his injuries.
The identities of the others killed in the fire are Steven Jon Gillitzer, 67, Patricia Lynn Gillitzer, 63, and Isaiah Anteus Adams, 3. Jonathan Steven Gillitzer, 8, survived the fire.
Jacob and Jonny's parents have been identified on the Gofundme page as Jahanna and Tom Wrobleski of Benson and Todd Gillitzer.
Hibbing fire officials said Wednesday in a news release that the department was called to the home around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. Jonathan Gillitzer was found outside of the home with minor injuries. Smoke alarms were reportedly going off in the home when firefighters arrived.
Minutes after arriving on scene, rescuers removed the elder Gillitzers, Jacob Gillitzer and Adams from the home. They did not have pulses and were not breathing, the release said. Hibbing police officers and a firefighter resuscitated Jacob Gillitzer and Adams, who were later airlifted to a trauma center. Both would later succumb to their injuries.
The news release said Steven and Patricia Gillitzer died while attempting to rescue their grandchildren from the fire. Steven Gillitzer was a retired firefighter paramedic, having served the city of Hibbing for more than 24 years.
According to the news release, Jonathan Gillitzer told fire officials he was awoken by his grandfather, who said there was a fire and the family needed to get out. The boy said he could not see anything because of the smoke and darkness but remembered his grandfather throwing him out the front door to safety. Steven Gillitzer then went back into the house and did not come back out, the release said.
Several area fire departments helped battle the blaze while temperatures hovered around -20 degrees. A cause of the fire is still being investigated.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 209 people have donated a total of $14,855 to the the Gillitzer family via 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.