AKWESASNE - A father and his two young children died in a house fire in Akwesasne late Sunday morning, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police have confirmed.
Jarius Chrisjohn, 46, Javin Chrisjohn, 5, and Hunter Chrisjohn, 3, perished in their burning home at 184 St. Regis Road.
Family members Michelle David, 27, and her son, Jericho Chrisjohn, 8, escaped the building and survived. Mr. Chrisjohn also initially escaped the house but went back inside in an effort to save his two other children, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Chief Andrew Thomas told WWNY TV. While he was inside the home, the roof collapsed, according to the WWNY report.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation by tribal police, the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Franklin County Fire Department Cause and Origin Unit and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.
The Hogansburg/Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the fire at 10:22 a.m. as the scene commander, with Bombay called for mutual aid support at the same time. The Fort Covington Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched at 11:15 a.m. for further mutual aid. The Helena fire department was on standby.
Despite it being outside their jurisdiction, the Canadian Akwesasne Mohawk Police were first to respond to the fire. A police officer was reportedly able to get one person out of the burning structure.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne sends its deepest condolences to the entire David family and all who have been affected by this unimaginable loss, the Canadian tribal government said in a press release.
A tragedy of this enormity ripples across the territory, affecting every household. We are all connected in some way. Akwesasne is in mourning and we ask our neighbors and the public to be mindful and respectful of this grieving period. Nia:wenhkowa for your understanding.
St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council Director of Communications Allyson Doctor issued similar statement . On behalf of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, we express our deepest sympathy to the family, the statement from the tribal council said.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne has also postponed all community meetings scheduled this week, and is offering counseling services at their Wholistic Health and Wellness Program at 613-575-2341 ext. 3100.
Police are asking anyone with pertinent information regarding the incident to call Investigator Decota Thompson at 518-358-9200.