ST. PETERS, Mo. – First responders in St. Peters heading to one call instead wound up dealing with a deadly fire Monday afternoon.
The fire happened around 5 p.m. at a home in the 7300 block of Mexico Road near Mid Rivers Mall Drive.
The firefighters were on their way to a car fire on Mexico Road, when they saw smoke coming from this home. They stopped and found a man inside had died.
The victim, identified as 55-year-old Brian Hinni, had collapsed in a back bedroom. It's too soon to know exactly how he died.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation as well, but the St. Charles County Sheriff's Office said Hinni was a heavy smoker and may have been smoking in bed. They also said he had health problems and used an oxygen tank.
Neighbor Mike Paul lives a couple of doors down. He watched from his driveway as crews rushed around the burned house of his friend of 25 years.
"They went to the Girl Scouts, my daughter did with his daughter. He was very active with that. He was always with kids, I mean he was a nice guy," Paul said. "Wrenches at your heart. I hate to see anything like that happen to anybody, let alone somebody you know."
Authorities said Hinni lived in the home with his wife, but she was on vacation in Arkansas. Another crew did tend to the car fire.