ROME – New York State Police say the fire that killed three children in Rome last week has been ruled accidental rather than criminal, but the cause is still unknown.
Police say the fire may have started from an electrical appliance in the laundry room, but they're still working with fire investigators to determine the exact cause and origin. Investigators were back at the scene of the fire on Tuesday to continue their investigation.
Temprince Croad (left), Patrick Croad III (center), and Eliesse Croad (right)
Two-year-old Temprince Croad, three-year-old Patrick Croad III, and four-year-old Eliesse Croad were killed in the fire at 154 Pine Haven Circle in the outer district of Rome on July 24. The children’s parents, 24-year-old Gabrielle Croad and 25-year-old Patrick Croad, and their sister, one-year-old Kaydence Croad, survived the fire.
Witnesses and survivors of the fire say the flames started in the center of the mobile home, separating the parents from their children. The parents got out of the mobile home and tried going back inside from another way to get their children, but they were burned in the process.
A new community center is set to open in Vernon Center, and organizers with the center say their first order of business is to help the Croad family. The community center will open in the old Presbyterian Church, and a tour of the center will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
The woman behind the effort says she lost three children in a fire 15 years ago.
“There will be a donation box, much like a wedding box for cards, and we will have sympathy cards free and pens and a table for folks to sit down and fill out a card,” said Sharon Leavitt. “If they want to put money in that card, they can for the family. If they would just like to send their best wishes and prayers in a card, they can do that.”
Calling hours for the three children will be held 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at Nunn and Harper Funeral Home, located at 418 N. George St. in Rome. A memorial service will follow.