10-Year-Old Wisc. Boy Dies in House Fire with Family Dog After Being Unable to Open Locked Door

Fire officials said they found Justin Williams and the family dog on the kitchen floor, near "a 45 storm door with multiple locks on it"

A 10-year-old Wisconsin boy has tragically died alongside his beloved pet dog after the duo was unable to escape the burning home due to a locked door, officials said.

Justin Williams, of Milwaukee, was identified by family members as the victim in Friday's fatal fire, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Though his mother and 14-year-old sister were both inside the home at the time of the blaze, they both made it out safely, the outlet reported.

The Milwaukee Police Department confirmed the incident in a press release and said it unfolded around 10 p.m.

Firefighters with the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) quickly arrived on the scene, where they worked to put out the flames, CBS affiliate WDJT reported.

They later discovered that the young boy was inside with the family's dog. Based on where his body was located, MFD's Deputy Chief Erich Rosen said they believe Justin attempted to escape but was unable to open a locked door.

"They immediately began extinguishing fire in the front of the structure, made their way around to the rear where they encountered a 45 storm door with multiple locks on it," Rosen told the outlet. "They were able to force their way through that door and they found a 10-year-old child and the family dog in the kitchen on the floor."

After pulling Justin from the home, firefighters began performing life-saving efforts but it was too late, as he was pronounced dead at the scene, Acting Deputy Fire Chief Will Kowalski confirmed to FOX affiliate WITI.

A medical examiner's report, later obtained by WDJT, indicated that Justin's mom woke up as soon as the smoke alarms went off and she began yelling at her kids to wake up and get out.

Justin's sister was able to escape through a bedroom window, but Justin and his dog Ace — who were in the basement — could only reach the first floor before the smoke overcame them, WDJT reported.

"Smoke has a narcotic effect, so it will disorient you very quickly physically and visually, where you were unable to find your way out," Rosen told the outlet. "So we very much stress practicing exit drills from every room of your house."

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Investigators eventually confirmed that the fire was linked to a candle, according to the medical examiner's report obtained by WDJT.

Public records from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office stated that Justin's death was ruled accidental and caused by "inhalation of soot and products of combustion and thermal injuries."

Police noted in their press release that the other two occupants of the home were treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation. Both have since been released, according to WDJT.

Another dog was also found alive crated in the basement by firefighters but is now being cared for by a neighbor, the outlet reported.

In the wake of the incident, friends and family expressed their devastation over Justin's death.

His sister Alexa told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Justin was a "caring, energetic kid who liked to play with their three dogs and collect Pokemon cards."

"The last time I saw him was when he came in my room [Friday night] and we talked and then he gave me a hug and he asked me if I was OK," she recalled of her brother.

She also noted to the outlet that he had just returned to school at Neeskara Elementary, which is part of Milwaukee Public Schools, and was "very excited" about going back in person.

Ashley Buschbaum, who lives across the street from the family, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she didn't know Justin well but remembered how when he was shoveling snow, he would lift the shovel up and let the snow fall on top of him.

"He was such a goofy little kid," she explained to the outlet. "I would not know what to do if that was me. I was crying with [the family]."

Fellow neighbor Deanne Dupree echoed those sentiments to WDJT.

"We're all very heartbroken with them," she said. "I don't know how [the mom is] going to get through this, but she will."

A GoFundMe page has since been set up to help Justin's mom and sister with medical costs and funeral arrangements. So far, it has raised over $6,300.

Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe page can do so here.

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