Fatal house fire in Clearview Twp.
Seven-year-old Dominic Smith was killed in a house fire in Clearview Township on Thursday night. SUBMITTED
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.
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 fiancé, 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 Denesiuk-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 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 rescue 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,” Clearview 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.