North Canton fire 5.JPG

DISTANCE VIEW — This home was the scene of a fire early Sunday morning where an infant died while three other family members were able to escape.

A Canton family is accepting donations after losing their 3-month-old baby in a house fire last weekend.

Fire departments from around the county responded to a 911 call at 3:48 a.m. at 54 McCracken Road in the North Canton area.

“The call was for a structure fire with a possible entrapment of an infant,” said North Canton Fire Chief Steven Kelley.

First on the scene were firefighters from the Canton Fire Department, and within seconds, responders from North Canton arrived.

“When our first person, who arrived in a POV (personally owned vehicle) because he lived up the street, the back half of the house was fully involved,” Kelley said.

Ultimately, personnel from North Canton, Canton, Center Pigeon, Clyde, Junaluska, Enka/Candler and Leicester Fire Departments battled the blaze. Also responding was the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Haywood County Fire Marshal’s Office and Haywood County Emergency Services.

One of the concerns of firefighters was the proximity of a couple of out buildings, which emerged from the incident unscathed.

“The fire more or less originated on the other side of the house, so the majority of damage was on the far end away from where the outbuildings were, and we were able to fight it from both sides,” Kelley said.

The fire was out within about an hour, leaving only the charred remains of the home, which is considered a total loss. Kelley and others stayed on to conduct the necessary follow-up actions, no easy task.

Two adults and a 3-year-old child were able to escape the burning structure.

“Myself and a couple others stayed on the scene while the investigation went on,” he said. “We also searched for hot spots and searched for the infant.”

The infant was identified as Camden Ryder Clonts, son of Ashley Grasty and Austin Clonts.

Kelley said the fact that there was a known entrapment heightened everyone’s sense of urgency.

“Any time that you hear an entrapment in a house fire, that raises the intensity level a lot, especially if you hear It’s an infant,” he said. “People will go above and beyond, — they always do — but if you know it’s a child, it affects you differently. That increases the stress level quite a bit.”

“We haven’t had that many deaths by fire in this district or even this county, so that dynamic was tough,” he added. “The community prays for the family. We’re here to help them and anybody any way we can.”

Following the tragedy that unfolded Sunday morning, a GoFundMe was started by a friend of the family to help them rebuild their lives.

The page said funds will be used for Camden’s funeral service, to purchase clothing and necessary items for the mother and child and find a place to live.

The fire is still under investigation by the Haywood County Fire Marshal and the SBI, which was called in because of the loss of life.

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