2017-08-10 / Front Page

Williamstown Rallies Around Lashomb Family When Fire Takes Six Year Old Child

Elaine Stehel
The Northfield News

Photo by John Cruickshank, The Northfield News

A large crowd turned out to support the Lashomb family in Williamstown who lost their
six year old son in a house fire last week. A benefit was held at the Pub and substantial
money was raised for the family from the chicken BBQ, door prizes and a large number
of items offered at a silent auction by area merchantsPhoto by John Cruickshank, The Northfield News A large crowd turned out to support the Lashomb family in Williamstown who lost their six year old son in a house fire last week. A benefit was held at the Pub and substantial money was raised for the family from the chicken BBQ, door prizes and a large number of items offered at a silent auction by area merchantsPhoto by Elaine Stehel, The Northfield News

An electrical fire on Railroad Street in Williamstown early
in the morning of July 31 took the life of a six year old
child. The family dog was also lost in the fire. The community
has rallied around the family since the fire. They
lost everything. The Pub held a chicken BBQ last Sunday
to raise funds to help them.Photo by Elaine Stehel, The Northfield News An electrical fire on Railroad Street in Williamstown early in the morning of July 31 took the life of a six year old child. The family dog was also lost in the fire. The community has rallied around the family since the fire. They lost everything. The Pub held a chicken BBQ last Sunday to raise funds to help them.An electrical fire broke out at the Lashomb family’s home on Railroad Street in Williamstown in the early morning hours on Monday, July 31st, while eight family members were sleeping inside, including a number of youth under the age of 18, according to neighbors and volunteer fire lieutenant Chris Wade.


I asked Lieutenant Wade if there was anything the firefighters would like our community to know, or if there was any way similar electrical fires could be prevented. Without missing a beat, he emphatically replied, “Working smoke detectors. The big message with this whole thing is, check the smoke detectors. Check them often. If someone can’t afford a smoke detector, or thinks they can’t afford to have theirs checked, contact the local fire department - we will get you one.”


While the local volunteer firefighters from Williamstown and Northfield were able to arrive on the scene within minutes of receiving the call alerting them to the house fire, when they arrived at the home, Wade said, “it was a relatively short amount of time between when we got there and when the child was extricated,” and it was too late, as the child had by then inhaled too much smoke. “When we arrived on the scene, the middle of the house where the fire started, was fully engulfed” in flames and smoke, spreading through the bedrooms where the boy’s grandparents, mother, aunts, and uncles had been sleeping.


According to friend of the family Tiffany Corrow, “his mother, grandmother, and grandfather tried [to get him out in time], nearly losing their own lives.” She explains that “there were eight people there when the fire broke out, two of [whom] were taken to the emergency room for cuts and burns.”


Another neighbor, Andrew, who rents shop space on the family’s property, mentioned that the cause of the electrical fire was thought to have been a faulty air conditioning unit. When I stopped by the property on Tuesday morning, he said that Susan had gone to the hospital to check in with Kevin, who had suffered third-degree burns on his face and body, from running directly through the flames separating his room from the room where the children were sleeping, returning through the fire multiple times to try to get everyone out of the home.


Within hours of hearing about the fire, local business-owner Lindsey Contois arrived at their home, even though she didn’t know the family personally, to see if there was anything she could do to help Kevin and Susan Lashomb, who had lost their grandson, a boy of only six years of age, and one of their three dogs, to smoke inhalation.


She wasn’t the only neighbor reaching out to help: “My phone was blowing up last night with people asking, ‘What can we do to help?’” she told me when I went to talk with her at The Pub in Williamstown on Tuesday morning. From their local Facebook Business Page, I read on Monday evening the announcement that they would be holding a large benefit, to raise funds for funeral service expenses, from 12:00 - 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 6.


MacAuley’s Foodservice in nearby Websterville/Barre donated 40 lbs. of chicken for the community BBQ, and over 102 online followers ‘liked’ or ‘loved’ the Facebook Post announcing the benefit. 316 locals also ‘shared’ the post online, to spread the word that The Pub would love to receive additional donations of food and raffle prizes for the benefit from other businesses and individuals.


Michele Smedy of Barre mentioned that she would like to donate a percentage of sales received at her upcoming Scentsy Open House to the Lashomb family, and Debbie Davis Hunt also offered to organize a benefit and donate proceeds. Paula Clark offered to bring a pasta salad to The Pub’s event on Sunday; Michelle Lessard and Barbara Hepsley offered to make desserts; and many more community members and supporters have donated items for a raffle, for which people may purchase tickets, at $2 for 1 ticket, or $10 for an arms’ length, at the community BBQ on Sunday. Robin & Chris Hathaway even generously donated tickets to be raffled, for an August 25th Chris Stapleton concert at the Bank of NH Pavilion!


The Pub announced that a minimum $10 donation would be requested at the Sunday afternoon benefit, in exchange for access to the all-you-can-eat buffet of BBQ chicken and other food brought by community members, such as soups, chilis, salads, sides, and desserts. Contois, one of the owners of The Pub and one of the organizers of Sunday’s benefit, was continually checking her phone all week, responding to calls and messages from people offering to donate food, money, time, or all of the above.


It is inspiring to see the great number of people coming together to support this local family during this difficult time. The Williamstown Middle High School also posted on Facebook on Tuesday, August 1st, to ask the community to donate items to replace all that was damaged in the fire. They pleaded, “Due to the tragic fire that happened this week, we have a family that is in need of items that have been lost in the fire. The following items are needed: clothes (size 3 / 4 women’s pants; size small women’s shirts; size 5 women’s underwear), blankets, sheets, and dog food. We will be collecting these items at WMHS and W.E.S. and will deliver them the first of next week … More sizing for clothes came in. Men’s 38x32 pants and XXL shirts; size 12 shoes; women’s size 11 pants; and large shirts. Some of the family lost all their clothing and the rest was so smoke damaged they are not sure what they will be able to salvage.”


The Pub has announced this week, “We are already getting so many people that are willing to donate their time on Sunday and we are so excited the community is getting together to help.” As additional evidence of the great generosity of our community, Tiffany Corrow, a friend and co-worker of Susan Lashomb, created a fundraising page on the same day she heard about the fire. At the time of this writing, $2,105 of the $5,000 goal had already been donated. If you would also like to help ease the financial burden they are experiencing, please consider giving online at https://www.gofundme.com/helping-susie. As Corrow sums up, “Let’s come together as a community and show them that we are here and they are not alone during this tragedy.”

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