Boy, 7, killed in fire
Father’s fiancee says autistic boy wouldn’t leave house with her
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.
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
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.
Seven-year-old Dominic Smith died in a house fire in Clearview Township on Thursday night.