The year 2016 was rough for one Four State family, in losing two family members as well as a December 30 house fire which took all their grandfather's possessions. But they still have "Pop", or 84-year-old Edward Kautz thanks to Kautz's 14-year-old great grandson, Shelby York.
York's three siblings, parents, and cousin Josh were all staying at Kautz's house over the New Year weekend when Josh awoke to excessive warmth creeping into the home. A second-store fireplace caught fire on the exterior.
"We were woken up about midnight by my cousin and he saidd the house is on fire," Samantha York, Shelby's mother sai.d
York and her husband awoke their four children, ranging in age from one to 14-year-old Shelby. Instead of exiting the home, Shelby entered the smoke to find his great-grandfather. Shelby put a wet rag over Kautz's mouth and his own and escorted him out of the flames.
"I know we talk about fire safety a little bit at home, I know they do things at school, but he is just a genuine helper and so I think anything he's learned along the way about how to help people, he just saved in his little brain and he wanted to make sure his Grandpa was okay. They're pretty close," York said.
Kautz, a Korean War veteran, lost his beloved wife, Donna in March of 2016 to cancer. Family describes their marriage as something out of a movie. All Kautz's memories of his wife were destroyed in the fire, including a special piano. Donna Kautz played piano for movies in the silent film era.
Though he has some homeowner's insurance, it will not cover years of memories. Kautz's hearing aids, glasses and dentures were all lost in the flames.
The family is seeking donations of clothing and funds for Kautz. A GoFundMe page has been set up.
"I know he's too proud to ask for help so we're doing it for him," family member Jessica Miller said.
York's children lost many Christmas presents and winter clothing items in the fire, but she is more worried of her grandfather.
"His entire life was there," York said.
To donate, visit; https://www.gofundme.com/6p-up-in-smoke?ssid=860941248&pos=1
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas