ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — A grieving family overlooked the house where an elderly couple died during a fire in New Melle, Missouri, on Thursday.
Andy Zerr held back tears as he described the relationship of his parents, Kenneth and Phyllis Zerr.
The couple, both 84 years old, lost their lives together inside their home on Tall Cedar Court overnight.
Officials with the New Melle Fire Protection District stated Thursday afternoon they believed an appliance in the basement is what started the fire, but they were still investigating.
They noted flames came up through the bottom floor and climbed up to the two upstairs bedrooms.
As crews made it upstairs to search, the floor began to collapse. The couple became trapped.
“The dispatch was on the phone with my father and my father was trying to help my mother out of the house and they got trapped,” Zerr said.
Not even a fire could do this couple part.
“The dispatch told my father to come out of the house and my father said, 'I'm not leaving my wife' and stayed with her. Until the end,” Zerr continued.
The couple had three children, several grandchildren, and a host of other family and friends.
Their son shared with 5 On Your Side that his parents were deeply rooted in their community and church.
They spent almost every holiday at the house that was wrapped in caution tape.
“Everybody wanted to be like them and everybody wanted to be with them. My mom and dad were salt of the earth. They will be dearly missed. They were a pillar of the community. They were our rocks. They were our foundation. They were our wisdom."
The couple celebrated 63 years of marriage in September. Kenneth celebrated his 84th birthday on Tuesday and Phyllis back in July.
The family said their funeral plans were already set.