Officials: Child Started N.Y. Fire that Killed Two Brothers

Aug. 09--HARKNESS -- State fire investigators determined that one of the two young boys killed in a fire in a mobile home on Clintonville Road set the blaze.

Tucker Burnham, 6, and and his brother, Payden, 4, died in the June 30 fire.

Their now 7-month-old sister, Raelynn, was rescued by the children's grandmother Cynthia Burnham, who lives next door.

Raelynn is still at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, receiving treatment for severe burns.

STARTED IN BEDROOM

The investigators' report, completed last week, states the fire debris and surrounding circumstances point to a cause that's "consistent with a juvenile fire setting," the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Fire Prevention and Control told the Press-Republican.

The fire started in the bedroom of one of the boys, it said.

Separate bedrooms had been made by dividing one room, according to their aunt Penny Stone, who was babysitting the children that night at the home in the Town of AuSable hamlet of Harkness.

She told the Press-Republican earlier that she had put Tucker and Payden to bed, Raelynn in her crib and was watching a movie with her two children, Skyler, 3, and Mason, 2, when she heard Tucker calling to her.

"He said, 'Aunt Penny, please help me -- there's a fire,'" Stone, 22, recounted the events of that night.

She said she ran to the bedroom but when she opened the door, flames and smoke overpowered her.

"The bed, walls and floor were all on fire. I tried so hard to get to him, and I couldn't."

'FIRE SOURCE UNKNOWN'

Because of the heavy damage to the mobile home and its contents, investigators were unsure if the boy was playing with matches, a lighter or something else, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control said.

And while the report has been completed, the agency considers cases still open in the event that additional evidence is uncovered.

On Friday, State Police declined to release any details of their investigation.

The mobile home was a total loss, completely gutted in the blaze.

'MANY DONATIONS'

Since the tragedy, friends and neighbors of the Burnhams have been raising money and gathering items to replace those that were lost.

The "Support for the Burnham family" Facebook page had almost 1,650 likes as of Friday afternoon.

Posted there are photos of Raelynn in the hospital and a separate pictures of her two brothers.

Updates on the baby's progress at the hospital are also posted. The site says doctors had performed skins grafts.

An Aug. 5 post, sharing a video of Raelynn from her father's Facebook page, is captioned by the page's creator: "She's looking so good! What a fighter!"

Katie Brown, who plays darts with Mr. and Mrs. Burnham, made a page on gofundme.com, setting a goal of raising $20,000 for the family.

As of Friday afternoon, 322 contributors had given $17,690.

In the comments section, people express their sympathies and offer to donate various items ranging from a bedroom set to shoes.

"I know there's been a lot (of donations)," Nicole Donaldson, a neighbor of the Burnhams, said on Friday.

She said a little girl from Mineville made pens and sold them to raise money, collecting $150.

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg

Copyright 2014 - The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

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