July 3, 2014

Autopsy, cause of fatal fire not yet ready

HARKNESS — State Police said the autopsy results for two boys who died in a fire Monday won’t be available for at least a few days.

“A lot of times, with cases like this, the pathologist does like to go kind of beyond the autopsy of the body itself and look into other things,” State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lt. John Coryea said.

Dr. Jolie Rodriguez began the autopsies on Tucker Burnham, 6, and Payden Burnham, 4, on Tuesday at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh.

She is gathering as much information as possible before making a final determination, Coryea said.

Police had not received word Wednesday on the progress of the investigation, which began right after firefighters doused the flames Monday night.

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control is in charge of that probe.

They were assisted Monday night and Tuesday by Clinton County fire investigators.

Clinton County Director of Emergency Services Eric Day said finding the cause could take days, weeks or months.

Fire investigators collected information from the fire site Monday night and for the bulk of the day Tuesday and will likely have to analyze the information in depth before announcing what caused the fire, Day said.

“It’s a matter of compiling that data and chasing down some leads.”

The cause of some fires is never determined, he said, although it’s too soon to tell if that will be the case with the Harkness fire.

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control said Wednesday afternoon the agency could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

Penny Stone, who was babysitting Starr and Victor Burnham’s three children at their home Monday night, tried to extinguish the fire, which started in Tucker’s bedroom.

When her efforts were unsuccessful, she said, she called for help. Cynthia Burnham, the children’s grandmother, hurried there from her house next door, along with other family members.

Cynthia rescued 6-month-old Raelynn Burnham from the blaze.

The baby is being treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, where she underwent surgeries and a blood transfusion, according to family members.

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

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