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January 2018 story: Fatal fire victim ID'd, cause points to 'unattended candle'

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Firefighters from the New Richmond Fire Department work to contain the blaze that started at 1745 Margaret St. in the Town of Richmond on Monday, Jan. 15. Jordan Willi / RiverTowns Multimedia2 / 2

Authorities on Wednesday identified the likely cause of a fatal fire and the identity of the child who was found dead in the house.

St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson identified the victim as 4-year-old Jacetin L. Campeau,  one of at least six people living at the 1745 Margaret St. home. A medical examiner's report listed smoke inhalation as the likely cause of death, the sheriff said.

Invetigation indicated an "unattended candle" found in the living rooms was the apparent cause of the fire.

"Our continued thoughts and condolences go out to the family of Jacetin, and to all the community members affected by this loss," Knudson said.

The fire was reported at about 3:15 p.m. Jan. 15, when dispatchers took an initial report of a young child who remained in the house.

A news release from New Richmond Fire & Rescue details how firefighters responded to the fire directly from a car crash, arriving on scene at 3:25 p.m. The fire was fully involved when they arrived.

"Law enforcement from both the New Richmond Police Department and the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office assisted in rescue efforts and setting up the fire ground," the release states. "NRF&R had an entry team on the first level that began battling the flames and an additional entry team on the second story window that fought heavy intense heat and began a search for the child. Shortly after, the roof structure failed causing heavier fire and heat forcing fire fighters to bail out of the second story."

One firefighter was injured while battling the blaze, the condition of whom was not disclosed in the release.

Knudson said initial investigation of the scene indicated the boy was alone in the home at the time of the fire while other children were outside playing in the snow.

The family was gripped by “shock and devastation,” he said.

Whether adults were present at the time is “part of our investigation,” Knudson said, adding that investigators learned the boy’s father was running an errand at some point during the incident but was home in time to aid in rescue efforts.

He was joined by several people who tried entering the home to rescue the child, Knudson said. Neighbors, family members and first responders all tried getting in — some raising ladders to the upper level in hopes of saving the boy, according to the sheriff — but the fire’s heat and intensity were too much.

“It’s traumatic for those trying to get into that house,” he said, describing a “ripple effect” impacting those on the scene. “They were trying everything to get to areas.”

Knudson said some neighbors sustained minor injuries during the effort.

Initial investigation indicated the fire was not suspicious, he said.

Temperatures facing firefighters at the time of the call were about 1 below zero with wind chills around 10 below.

Knudson said he spoke to a family member who told him they had rented the property for about three years. The sheriff said he was not aware of any previous calls for service to the address.

The American Red Cross and family members were assisting the residents, Knudson said.

The boy’s death is the latest in a string of fatalities involving young people from the New Richmond area over the past several months.

“It’s another blow to the New Richmond community,” Knudson said.

New Richmond firefighters and deputies were assisted by fire crews from Somerset, the town of St. Joseph and Roberts, along with New Richmond EMS. Hdson Fire assisted with station coverage.

Knudson said the fire's cause and origin remain under joint investigation by the New Richmond Fire Department, the sheriff's office and the Wisconsin State Fire Marshal's Office.