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Fri., Sep. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Flames thwarted rescue efforts in Akwesasne fire


AKWESASNE - The flames of the house fire in Akwesasne on Sunday forced firefighters out of the building, thwarting attempts to rescue the father and two young sons who died in the blaze.

Jarius Chrisjohn, 46, Javin Chrisjohn, 5, and Hunter Chrisjohn, 3, of St. Regis Road perished in their burning home late Sunday morning.

Michelle David, 27, and her son Jericho Chrisjohn, 8, escaped the building and survived.

A Tuesday press release from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council said the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to “a structural fire with possible entrapment” at 10:22 a.m.

HAVFD “attempted rescue operations, however worsening conditions forced firefighters out of the structure,” the release said.

Firefighters had the blaze under control within 45 minutes of multiple departments’ arrival, although crews from the 12 separate emergency response agencies remained on the scene until 8 p.m.

St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police have completed the investigation into the cause of the fire, but final report details will not be made available to the public for at least a few days.

The tribe extended “heartfelt condolences” to the David and Chrisjohn families and friends in their release, saying, “We have gathered our kindest thoughts and prayers together and wrap them around the family members who mourn at this time. We also extend our thoughts out to the community members whose memories have been jostled and thrown back in time to devastating losses they have also suffered in the past.”

The release continued that tribe members were “extremely grateful for the lives that were spared” and that they appreciate the sacrifices and risks that the community’s first responders make as they try “their best to help someone in their time of greatest need.”

“The membership of the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the families involved in this tragedy,” HAVFD Chief Derek Cominssaid in the release.

The department also thanked those community members who delivered food, coffee and snacks to the firemen as they worked.

Bombay Fire and EMS, Fort Covington Fire, Helena Fire, Franklin County Emergency Services, New York State Fire, Akwesasne Mohawk Ambulance, Massena Rescue, Seaway Valley Ambulance, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police, New York State Police and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service were also thanked for their “immediate response and rescue efforts.”

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