‘Heartbreaking’: Neighbour recalls trying to save 3-year-old Hamilton boy killed in fire

Hamilton police have taken over the investigation into Monday’s tragic house fire that claimed the life of a three-year-old boy on the west mountain.

Fire crews responded just after 10 a.m. to reports of heavy fire and smoke at a semi-detached house on Golden Orchard Drive, in the area of Garth Street and the Linc, in Hamilton.

Firefighters found the toddler after being told there was one person still inside the house. Cayden, 3, was pulled by firefighters from the basement of the home and was later pronounced dead.

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Young child found dead in Hamilton mountain fire

“I went to the door and I heard the mother yelling for help. I ran over, she told me that her son was inside and I took a couple of steps in to see if I could do anything and the smoke was so thick I came out choking, coughing,” said Steve, a neighbour Global News has agreed to identify by first name alone.

“When I broke the window all the smoke and flames shot outside, there was nothing we could do —; no way to enter. It was helpless.”

“I have my own children, I can’t even think what it would be like to have a situation like that,” he added. “It’s heartbreaking for anyone.”

Steve Godden, another neighbour who watched the tragedy unfold, said he and his wife watched firefighters try to revive Cayden but then learned he had tragically passed away.

“It’s hard when you have children of your own too, you put yourself in that position and you can’t imagine how you would feel,” Godden said.

“To see it firsthand it hits home a little bit more and puts things into perspective.”

Neighbour Shelley Donovan said losing a child in such a tragic way was incomprehensible to her.

“I can’t imagine what the mom is going through,” she said. “To see her in the house and then try to run back and she couldn’t get down there.”

A GoFundMe online fundraiser has been set up to help the boy’s family with the cost of funeral expenses. As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, it had raised $1,745.

Cassandra Buckland, the organizer of the campaign and the boy’s cousin, said Cayden’s mother Susan is “an emotional wreck” after the tragic fire.

“Tragedy struck our family, Cayden (3) lost his little life on the morning of May 1 2017. Fire broke out in a basement apartment on Hamilton mountain and Cayden was not able to survive,” she said on the fundraising page.

“We are seeking help for funeral expenses and to help [the] family through. Anything is appreciated if you can help.”

Buckland said the fundraiser would cover the cost of the burial and a headstone and any remaining funds would be donated to the family.

“We thank everyone for their support it means more then words can express,” she said. “We are asking to respect us as we mourn and refrain from asking anything regarding to the case, let the police finish their investigation.”

An investigator with the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office was then called in to determine the cause and origin of the fire. Damages are to the house are estimated at $150,000.

Police said Tuesday morning they would not be releasing any further information at this time and have not provided any details yet on the suspected cause of the fire.

Hamilton Police are now leading the investigation into Monday’s fire which claimed the life of a three-year-old mountain boy.

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