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Baby identified as Rideau Lakes fire victim

·3 min read

A one-year-old girl died in a house fire near here on Tuesday night, provincial police confirmed on Thursday.

Samara Holmes lost her life in the fire on 9th Concession Road, in Rideau Lakes Township, the Ontario Provincial Police reported in a heart-wrenching update.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the stricken family.

Rideau Lakes firefighters and members of the OPP’s Leeds County detachment responded at approximately 9:15 p.m. Tuesday to the fire.

Police said one body was located in the home. OPP identified the victim after a post-mortem on Thursday.

The incident also resulted in minor injuries to two firefighters.

The Leeds OPP crime unit is investigating the matter, in conjunction with the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM), the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario (OCCO) and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (OFPS).

According to OPP Sgt. Cynthia Savard, the fatal fire is, at this point, being investigated as a house fire. The crime unit is assisting the other partners involved and is conducting interviews with all of the parties involved.

On Wednesday, Rideau Lakes Fire Chief Scott Granahan said firefighters arriving at the scene were told of a child unaccounted for. While they were able to bring the child out, sadly, she proved to be the victim.

One adult and two children made it safely out of the house on Tuesday night, said Savard.

"It's tough for all the emergency service workers, it’s going to be tough for the community and of course for the family and friends," Granahan said Wednesday, "but it’s something we unfortunately have to work through and we'll continue to do what we can to support the members of our community and work to heal together."

"It's a tragic thing and our condolences go out to the family,” said Lonnie Schubert, a supervisor at the Fire Marshal's Office.

A memorial of flowers and stuffed animals was building at the base of the tree that grows in the front yard of the house. Neighbours and other community members began leaving the items on Wednesday following the tragic fire.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Schubert could not answer where the fire originated or what caused it; he added that he could not determine the extent of the damage yet either.

When crews arrived at the scene there was heavy smoke and fire on the second floor of the home and some smoke and flames were visible on the ground floor, said Granahan.

Rideau Lakes firefighters were supported by about 10 members of the South Frontenac Fire Department as they battled the blaze into early Wednesday morning. Crews wrapped up around 4:30 a.m. and remained on scene to investigate throughout the day and into Thursday.

A GoFundMe was created following the tragedy.

"My sister and her family lost their home and belongings but most tragically they lost their sweet girl Samara," writes Christina Corbet, organizer of the fundraising campaign, adding that Samara was a beautiful daughter, sister, granddaughter and niece.

According to the GoFuneMe, the loss will bring great costs including a funeral, a place for the family to stay and warm clothes, toys and bedding for the two boys, Mathew and Mickey, who have lost their home.

After just one day of being created, the GoFund me has exceeded the goal of $5,000. As of Thursday evening there were 326 donors with a total of $30,168 of funds raised to help the family affected by the fire.

"From the bottom of all our hearts we thank you," wrote Corbet on the online campaign.

Many people left a comment to share their words of condolences to the family.

The GoFundMe drive can be found here.

(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times

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