Niagara Gazette

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July 2, 2014

Two boys dead, infant critically injured in mobile home fire

HARKNESS, N.Y. — Two young children died and their infant sister was in critical condition after fire engulfed their mobile home in a small town in upstate New York Monday night.

Tucker Burnham, age 6, and his brother Payden, 4, perished in the blaze, which apparently started shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday. Their sister, six-month-old Raelynn, was rescued from the flames and rushed to Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Boston, where according to state police, she was listed in critical condition.

After Clinton County dispatchers received a 911 call, troopers and fire personnel arrived at the home, in the Town of AuSable hamlet, and found it “engulfed in fire,” police said.

Penny Stone, 23, was babysitting the three children, according to police, and her own children, ages 2 and 4, were also in the home at 318 Clintonville Road. After seeing flames in a bedroom, she was unable to douse them and fled the burning home with her children. She rushed next door to the home of the Burnham children’s grandmother, Cynthia Burnham. Cynthia was able to save Raelynn from the fire, but intense heat and smoke kept her and other family members who had rushed to the scene from reaching Tucker and Payden, police said.

“There was no way to get in there,” said Coty Santose, a neighbor who lives across the street, adding that he saw people breaking windows on the outside of the home in an attempt to rescue the children.

The bodies of the two boys were discovered in a bedroom after the blaze was extinguished, said Lt. John Coryea of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Autopsies on the boys were scheduled for Tuesday.

Only the frame of the structure was left standing Tuesday, surrounded by yellow police tape. A child’s bicycle and a stroller were on the ground just outside the home, with toys strewn about the lawn.

While the 30 firefighters with Keeseville and other volunteer fire departments had the flames under control within a half hour to 45 minutes, they were at the fire site for almost six hours, according to Fire Chief David Perky.

Coryea said fire investigators from Clinton County and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control were working to determine how and where the fire started.

“We have nothing, at this point, to indicate that there is something suspicious about it,” Coryea said Tuesday evening.

Information for this story was reported by the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) Press-Republican.

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