HARKNESS — Friends and relatives of the Burnham family were in disbelief Tuesday over the tragic fire in their neighborhood Monday night.
“Yesterday, I came home, and the (Burnham) boys were waving and yelling to me,” said Chakya Santose, who lives across the street.
“I wasn’t expecting that that would be the last time I ever saw them.”
‘SO MUCH SMOKE’
Santose, 19, has known the family her whole life, she said, at times babysitting the boys, Payden and Tucker.
“They were just like normal boys and always outside playing all the time,” she said.
“They would always yell to me.”
Chakya’s brother, Coty Santose, 24, said he came home Monday night to a wild scene of fire trucks and chaos.
“It was like someone was burning a big pile of tires. There was so much smoke,” he said.
Little was left of the Burnhams’ mobile home Tuesday except the charred frame, barely standing.
Family members who live next door sat outside in apparent shock as State Police and Clinton County fire investigators continued to check the area at midday.
A relative sat under a tent with bandages up most of her arms, trying to stifle her tears. She was comforted by several young men who sat with her.
On Tuesday, many family members and friends of the Burnhams had changed their Facebook profiles to a photo of a single candle, its flame glowing in the dark.
News of the tragedy spread fast throughout the community.
“Tucker was a wonderful little boy,” AuSable Forks Elementary School Principal Ginene Mason said of the first-grader.
“He lit up the school, and we’re going to miss him dearly.”
Just last week, Tucker completed his second year as a student at the school.
On behalf of AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage, the School Board and the entire school community, Mason extended condolences to the Burnham family.