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Three children perish in fire

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
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Posted 7/24/18

Three young children are dead, and the parents and an infant were hospitalized with burns, following a late night fire at the Pine Haven mobile home park.The cause of the fire is under investigation …

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Three children perish in fire

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Three young children are dead, and the parents and an infant were hospitalized with burns, following a late night fire at the Pine Haven mobile home park.

The cause of the fire is under investigation this morning by city and state officials.

The fire spread quickly at 154 Pine Haven Circle in the outer district, officials said. This prevented any rescue attempts when firefighters arrived on the scene shortly before midnight.

“It was completely engulfed in flames. Unfortunately, those mobile homes go quickly” due to light-weight construction materials, explained Deputy Fire Chief Thomas M. Iacovissi this morning.

“The fire was of such magnitude that it was impossible to enter the trailer.”

Killed in the fire:

• Temprince J. Croad, age 2.

• Patrick G. Croad III, age 3.

• Eliesse A. Croad, age 4.

Parents Patrick G. Croad, age 25, and Gabrielle M. Croad, age 24, were able to escape the fire with their 18-month-old daughter, Kaydence J. Croad, according to state police. All three were taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Syracuse for burn injuries.

“The family was asleep and they awoke to the smoke alarms going off,” Iacovissi explained. He said the infant was with the parents and they escaped out a rear door. “They went to the front door to try and get in and reach the other children, but due to the fire, they were unable to.”

The chief explained that the parents’ bedroom and the two bedrooms for the other children were at opposite ends of the mobile home, with a utility room, bathroom and other rooms in between.

“The parents refused to leave the scene until we recovered the children,” he noted.

Iacovissi stated there were multiple calls to 9-1-1 from neighbors in the densely packed mobile home park at about 11:50 p.m. Monday.

Neighbor Lawrenso Williams said he watched from nearby as the Croad family attempted to get back into the residence.

“It looked like fire. It looked like loss. What are you going to do? You can’t fight that by yourself,” Williams stated.

“That’s three kids’ lives right here. How do you get around that? What can you do? In essence, what you do is you do what we’re doing now: you sit and you watch, and you watch your whole life burn away.”

Williams said the Croad family lived at the residence for about two to three years. He said the husband worked in Verona while the wife stayed home with the children, who were often seen outside.

“Big family, good family, loving family,” he stated.

The Pine Haven mobile home park is on the edge of the Rome Fire Department’s jurisdiction, off Oswego Road in the outer district. Iacovissi said it took about 10 minutes for firefighters to get to the scene. Fire officials said a mobile home fire can spread in about six to 10 minutes.

The deputy chief said he did not know how long the fire was burning before the family woke up.

Iacovissi said his crews were alerted en route that there were children in the home, and several neighbors told him once he arrived on the scene — but the fire was too heavy to mount a rescue operation.

Instead, crews used the water in the trucks to launch the initial attack.

“There’s more gallons-per-minute with the deck gun” on Engine 3, the chief stated.

The nearest fire hydrant was about a mile away on Oswego Road, he said, so volunteer fire departments Vienna and New London were called to tanker water to the scene.

Fire officials said they were able to knock down most of the flames with the engines in about five to 15 minutes, with multiple hose lines trained on the fire to put it out for good.

“We didn’t really have a water issue at all,” noted Fire Chief Ronald M. Brement at the scene this morning.

Neighbor Williams said he would like to see fire hydrants in the Pine Haven mobile home park instead of the closest one being a mile away.

“You need fire hydrants,” Williams stated. “These things (mobile homes) are like matchsticks.”

Once the fire was out, Iacovissi said city firefighters recovered the bodies of the children still inside the home. The parents were then taken by AmCare Ambulance to University Hospital for treatment.

The chief said the infant suffered burns to both arms, but not to her face or breathing passages. The mother suffered second-degree burns, and the father was taken to the hospital evaluation, authorities stated.

A fundraiser has been set up for the family at www.gofundme.com.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by city fire investigators, the state police and the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control. Iacovissi said there is no indication that the fire was intentionally set.

A counseling session for the city firefighters involved in the firefight has been set up for Wednesday.

“It’s tough. They’re hanging in there,” Iacovissi said of the 17 initial responders, and the firefighters rotated into the scene later.

“There are a lot of guys with young families here, and it’s tough on them.”

The last fatal fire in the City of Rome was on Feb. 18, 2016, when a 7-year-old boy was killed in the 500 block of Turin Street. The last fire in Rome with this much loss of life was nearly 15 years ago, in November 2003, on Hoag Road, where three children were killed.

The last fire at the Pine Haven mobile home park was on April 8, 2018. Two people escaped the mobile home, which was also a total loss.

“This is extremely saddening. Our hearts ache for the family and we certainly send our condolences,” said Rome Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo this morning.

“I know our firefighters did everything they could when they got to the scene.”

The Pine Haven mobile home park and the lots, which are rented by the tenants, are owned by Pine Have MHP LLC in Michigan, according to city tax records.

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