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Married for more than six decades, couple dies after fire engulfs Sun Valley home

Married for more than six decades, couple dies after fire engulfs Sun Valley home
Los Angeles fire crews battle a blaze in a Sun Valley ranch home that left an elderly couple dead. (OnScene.TV)

An elderly couple who were pulled from their Sun Valley home as it was engulfed in flames have died, fire officials said Sunday.

The fire was reported about 8 p.m. Saturday at a hacienda-style home in the 9100 block of La Tuna Canyon Road, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The home was one of several structures on the family's ranch in a canyon of the Verdugo Mountains.

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The couple, identified by their granddaughter as Theodore J. Kiapos, 91, and Aspasia M. Kiapos, 90, were sleeping in their bed when the blaze broke out.

The Kiapos' daughter was on the property at the time, but the fire was already too big to attempt a rescue, according to a GoFundMe page set up by granddaughter Sophia Kiapos to raise funds for the family.

Firefighters arrived and had to break open an entry gate and carry ladders and hoses up a 500-foot-long driveway, fire officials said.

As firefighters tried to douse the flames, a crew sawed through the burning home's roof to let the heat and smoke escape.

Firefighters eventually pulled the couple from the smoldering home. Neither was breathing or had a pulse, although paramedics revived both while en route to the hospital. Both later died at the hospital.

Theodore "Ted" Kiapos was a star football player at what was then Pepperdine College and ran his family business, Omega Shoe Polish Co., before retiring. His wife of nearly 64 years, Aspasia Kiapos, graduated from UCLA and later worked as an elementary teacher in the Burbank School District.

"There is beauty in all of this devastation," wrote Sophia Kiapos. "Praying over my grandparents as they took their last breath was truly the greatest honor for me, to have loved them wholly and unconditionally, as they loved each other and their family. Love conquers all."

The Los Angeles County coroner's office had not yet formally identified the couple.

The fire was put out after about 40 minutes. A third victim, a woman, was in serious condition after experiencing smoke exposure and burns to her hand, fire officials said.

A firefighter from a North Hollywood station was taken to the hospital after "exhibiting effects of extreme exertion," according to the Fire Department. The firefighter was later released after he was examined by a physician.

For more news in California, follow @MattHjourno.

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