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Woman, 72, and her grandson, 25, died in St. Joseph house fire, brother says

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Two people died early Thursday morning in a house fire at 16th and Olive in St. Joseph.

The fire broke out at about 7 a.m., and when crews arrived they could see heavy smoke and fire.

FOX 4's Melissa Stern spoke with the brother of the woman who lived in the home. He said his 72-year-old younger sister, Carol, was one of the victims. The other victim is reportedly her 25-year old grandson who was in the basement at the time of the fire and lived with her.

"It just kind of stuns you," said Gary Black. "It took me by surprise. I'm in shock."

Carol's son also lived with her. The family says he was also at home when the fire started. We're told he's in his 50s and a paraplegic and was taken to the hospital.

Black said his sister's daughter called him and told him the news. He says his sister Carol was found in the back room, close to the back door.

"I don't know if she was trying to get out or what," he said.

"The fire had evolved to the point where they couldn't stay in there so they backed out," said Mike Neylon, St. Joseph Fire Department's chief training officer. He also said one firefighter was briefly in "a bad position" fighting the fire and had to jump out a window, but was not injured.

For several hours after extinguishing the fire, firefighters were working to get water out of the basement before they could remove the body believed to be there. At about 3 p.m. Thursday, firefighters were able to confirm both deaths.

"All the stuff that was on the first floor is now in the basement, so we're going to have to sift through all the belongings. Everything that was in the house and is now in the basement is going to have to be moved after the water is removed to find anything," said Neylon.

"She doesn't get out of the house very much because she was a caretaker for her paraplegic son," said Black.

Black said she had recently learned she had congestive heart failure and that she smoked a lot.