News Local

Boy wouldn't leave his room when fire started

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

CLEARVIEW TWP. – A family is grieving the loss of a seven-year-old boy after a house fire destroyed their home Thursday night.

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

Ontario Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) investigators were sifting through the charred ruins of the home on Friday, as Sam Lawrence and her fiancé Dave Fleming spoke with provincial police on the driveway.

Lawrence, Fleming and his three children, Brooke, 18, Dylan Arney-Fleming 12, David Fleming, 11, 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 farm house 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.

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 the firefighters arrived on scene, the flames had engulfed the old farmhouse and they weren’t able to retrieve the small 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,” said Clearview Deputy Fire Chief Roree Payment on Friday.

As OFMEM investigators poked through the wreckage 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 accident in Markdale, she added.

“He never got to know his mother,” Fleming said of the deceased little boy.

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 $11,290 had been donated by the community.

Additionally, clothes for the children can be dropped off at the Jubilee Presbyterian Church 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

 

CBrowne@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/cherylbrowne1

 

 



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