Blackstone and state authorities are trying to determine the cause of a house fire Sunday afternoon that claimed the life of a two-year-old boy on Luke Street here.
The Father’s Day tragedy plunged this community into sadness just one day after Blackstone Volunteer Fire Department christened its newest fire engine.
Nottoway Sheriff Robert Jones said the first of several 911 calls was received at 12:07 p.m., reporting heavy smoke and someone still inside the one-story brick home at 918 Luke Street.
Blackstone Police Sgt. Chris Mathias was among the first to arrive on scene and encountered flames rolling through a front window, which Fire Chief Dion Tomer says was the boy’s bedroom.
Tomer said Sgt. Mathias and Fire Sgt. Mike Smith, who rushed to the scene in his personal vehicle, tried to gain entry but were overcome by heat and smoke.
Mathias grabbed a garden hose and tried to keep flames at bay while trucks were en route.
Tomer said two adults and two children were inside the home when Sunday’s fire broke out. Those two adults and one of the children were able to escape, but flames spread so rapidly, the other child — identified by sources as two-year-old Cage Pearce — couldn’t be rescued.
Tomer said the two adults inside the home reported that the fire apparently began in the boy’s bedroom. One of those adults was the child’s father, who was overcome by emotion at the scene, calling out his son’s name and collapsing in grief.
The department was dispatched at 12:10 p.m., and Tomer said the department’s new engine arrived on scene about six minutes later. “Units arrived to heavy fire blowing from the windows out of the room where the victim was located.”
Blackstone Police Dept. and Virginia State Police are investigating the fire. Blackstone volunteers were joined by firefighters from Fort Pickett, Crewe, Kenbridge, and Victoria, as well as Nottoway Emergency Squad.
Tomer said one individual was transported to an area hospital for evaluation. The home and its contents are a total loss, said Tomer.
Tomer said the rental home apparently didn’t have any working smoke detectors.
Soldiers of Mercy Motorcyle Ministry, located at 417 Church Street (former Blackstone Christian Church) announced plans at presstime for a benefit Spaghetti dinner and baked goods auction to benefit the family, set for Sunday, July 3rd, from 11 a.m. until. For more information, call Jeff Dunn at 434-298-6540 or visit the church’s Facebook
Sunday’s fire was the first for the department’s new $750,000 fire engine, which was formally dedicated the previous day in a ceremony at the station. The 2021 Pierce pumper was the first truck to arrive on scene, and Chief Tomer said it did so within six minutes after being dispatched.
Prior to Sunday’s tragedy, the most recent fatal fire for Blackstone volunteers occurred on another holiday — Thanksgiving Day 2021. That’s when 82-year-old Allen Patterson died after using flammable liquid to jump-start a fire in his woodstove on Old Shore Road.