Boy, 7, killed in fire

Fa­ther’s fi­ancee says autis­tic boy wouldn’t leave house with her

The Barrie Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - CHERYL BROWNE BAR­RIE EX­AM­INER

CLEARVIEW TWP. – A fam­ily is griev­ing af­ter a seven-year-old boy was killed in a house fire Thurs­day night.

More than nine fire trucks at­tended the blaze that en­gulfed the farm­house on High­way 26 near Sun­nidale Cor­ners at County Road 10.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors from the prov­ince’s Of­fice of the Fire Mar­shal and Emer­gency Man­age­ment (OFMEM) were sift­ing through the charred ru­ins of the home on Fri­day, as Sam Lawrence and her fi­ance, Dave Flem­ing, spoke with pro­vin­cial po­lice in the drive­way.

Lawrence, Flem­ing and his three chil­dren - 18-year-old Brooke, 12-year-old Dy­lan Ar­ney-Flem­ing and 11-year-old David Flem­ing rented the farm­house with Don­ald Smith and his seven-year-old autis­tic son, Do­minic Smith.

Lawrence said when the fire started shortly af­ter 8:30 p.m., she tried to get Do­minic to leave the house with her.

“He was on the bunk bed and he wouldn’t come to me,” Lawrence said in the drive­way of the farm­house on Fri­day.

“He al­ways comes to his ‘Momma’. I’ve been his momma since he was two years old. We live with his dad’s best friend,” she ex­plained, mo­tion­ing to Flem­ing, who was too dis­traught to speak to a re­porter.

Lawrence said Do­minic was mostly non-ver­bal, but had be­gun to speak in the last year.

But for some rea­son, Do­minic wouldn’t leave his bunk bed and Lawrence, Flem­ing and the other chil­dren had to grab the dogs and leave the house as the fire spread.

By the time fire­fight­ers ar­rived on scene, flames had en­gulfed the old farm­house and they weren’t able to res­cue the lit­tle boy un­til they had the fire un­der con­trol.

“We did re­trieve him and re­move him and he was de­liv­ered to the paramedics, but he was vi­tal-signs ab­sent,” Clear view Deputy Fire Chief Roree Pay­ment said on Fri­day.

As OFMEM in­ves­ti­ga­tors poked through the de­bris us­ing flash­lights in­side the dark­ened front room, Pay­ment said it had been a tough call for the fire­fight­ers.

“Any call with kids is dif­fi­cult. We had eight new re­cruits on last night, it was their first fire, so you can imag­ine how dif­fi­cult that was for them.”

Pat Flem­ing vis­ited the house with her son and his part­ner Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“He was a sweet lit­tle boy,” Pat said of Do­minic, as she wiped away tears. “We treated him like our own grand­son.”

This isn’t the first time tragedy has struck the Smith fam­ily, she said.

Seven years ago, Do­minic’s mother died in a trac­tor in­ci­dent in Mark­dale, she added.

“He never got to know his mother,” Flem­ing said.

Friends and fam­ily in the Stayner area have reached out to help the Flem­ing and Smith fam­ily.

Karla Amy Smith started a GoFundMe so­cial-me­dia page to raise money, clothes and fur­nish­ings for the fam­ily.

By 4:30 p.m. on Fri­day, more than $12,000 had been do­nated by the com­mu­nity.

Ad­di­tion­ally, clothes for the chil­dren can be dropped off at the Ju­bilee Pres­by­te­rian Church at 7320 High­way 26 in Stayner, Smith said.

“Smart Stor­age in Stayner has also of­fered a free unit, and we’re col­lect­ing fur­ni­ture for the fam­ily, too,” Smith said, adding the fam­ily didn’t have con­tents in­sur­ance.

The 11-and 12-year-old Flem­ing boys need shoes (size five, six or seven) and cloth­ing, as does Brooke, who wears a size medium and women’s size six or seven shoes.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Lawrence wears a women’s medium and the men need medium and large-sized shirts and pants 32/30 and 32/34.

To do­nate money to the GoFundMe page, visit http://bit.ly/2tSzcb9.

J.T.MCVEIGH/POST­MEDIA NET­WORK

Two in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Of­fice of the Fire Mar­shal and Emer­gency Man­age­ment in­spect the dam­age fol­low­ing a house fire on High­way 26, near Sun­nidale Cor­ners, that killed a seven-year-old boy, Thurs­day evening. Emer­gency crews re­ceived the call shortly be­fore 9 p.m and on ar­rival the home was en­gulfed in flames. Four other res­i­dents of the house were able to es­cape, ac­cord­ing to po­lice

Do­minic Smith

CHERYL BROWNE/BAR­RIE EX­AM­INER

Fire­fight­ers re­mained at the scene of a fa­tal house fire in Clearview Town­ship on Fri­day where a seven-year-old autisic boy was killed. The fire re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

SUB­MIT­TED

Seven-year-old Do­minic Smith died in a house fire in Clearview Town­ship on Thurs­day night.

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