Officials identify one victim in Warwick fire that claimed the lives of mother, 4 children

  • A lei hangs from a sign in front of a property on Richmond Road in Warwick where a home caught fire early Saturday morning March 4, 2017, claiming the lives of a mother and four children. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The remains of a home on Richmond Road in Warwick which caught fire early Saturday morning, March 4, 2017, claiming the lives of a mother and four children. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/6/2017 2:10:11 PM

WARWICK — Just a short distance from the charred debris of a single-family home at 405 Richmond Road, a colorful bouquet of flowers rested atop a small wall of stones Sunday. At the bottom of the dirt driveway, a lei necklace hung from a white and black wooden sign reading “The Old Whittemore Farm.”

Following the news that a mother and four children died in a fire early Saturday morning, Warwick residents left the lei and flowers in memory of the victims. Then they came together to mourn Sunday morning.

Members of the Warwick Trinitarian Congregational Church comforted each other during a morning service. Later, community members gathered at Pioneer Valley Regional School and Warwick Community School to grieve.

“There was a great crowd of people there,” Selectboard Chairwoman Dawn Magi said of the 2 p.m. gathering at Warwick Community School. “Principal (Elizabeth) Musgraves said it was just to be there, to be together. It was just kind of, I would say, a healing experience.”

Magi and Warwick resident Tom Wyatt, who also attended the Warwick Community School gathering, said the two survivors of the fire, a father and his daughter, attended.

While the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office did not release the family members’ identities over the weekend, townspeople spoke of the family by name as they discussed the tragedy.

The parents, Scott and Lucinda Seago, were volunteers in town government, she on the health board and he on the broadband committee.

The Office of the state’s Chief Medical Examiner Monday afternoon confirmed there were five victims, according to the district attorney’s office. They are Mrs.  Seago, 42, and four of her children, ages 7, 9, 12 and 15. The DA did not identify the children. Scott Seago and a fifth child escaped the home and survived.

A white and black wooden sign at the end of the long driveway reads “The Old Whittemore Farm.”

The investigation into the origin and cause of the fire is being jointly conducted by the Warwick fire and police departments and state police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Office of the Northwestern District Attorney and Code Compliance Office in the Department of Fire Services.

The tragedy was the worst fatal fire in decades in Franklin County. Among the most deadly house fires in Franklin County in recent memory was a Sept. 25 fire on Meridian Street in Greenfield when three adults and a 5-year-old perished in a predawn blaze.

Reporters were turned away from the Sunday Warwick community meeting out of respect for the family.

“The father and daughter were there, and I think they appreciated people coming out,” Wyatt said afterward of Sunday’s gathering. “They’re obviously in great pain. Everybody is.”

Magi said there was no planned program, but simply a lot of support.

“There were hugs all around, and that’s always good,” she said. “It shows how much people in this town care about each other. We’re kind of a special town. I’ve always thought that.”

“It was just not being alone, being with a group of people who are experiencing the same things,” Pioneer Valley Regional School District Superintendent Ruth Miller said of the gathering. Miller estimated nearly 200 people gathered in the town of 780 residents.

“As is expected in Warwick, it’s a mixture of open grief and coming together as a community,” added Warwick resident Phil Simon, who also attended the gathering. “Warwick is known for its resiliency.”

The Warwick Trinitarian Congregational Church, Wyatt said, was nearly full Sunday morning as the Rev. Gordon Ellis delivered his sermon. According to Wyatt, Ellis said a similar tragedy hasn’t happened “in the recent past and maybe in all of Warwick’s history.”

The family moved into town in the past decade and both parents held volunteer positions in town government.

Emergency responders were called to the scene of the three-alarm fire at around 12:45 a.m. Saturday, and found two occupants, the father and his daughter, outside of the house. Town Coordinator Young said previously that at least 16 departments responded throughout the night.

The two occupants who escaped were taken to a hospital in Keene, N.H., with minor injuries, but the other five members of the family weren’t able to escape the blaze.

Some of the children were Warwick Community School pupils, one attended Pioneer Valley Regional School and at least one was home schooled, Young said of the four children who perished.

Miller said Pioneer was open Sunday morning, allowing students and parents to talk to grief counselors with the Riverside Trauma Center. Pioneer and Warwick Community School will continue classes as usual on Monday, Miller said, though staff will offer continued support.

“Normalcy is really important for kids,” Miller said. “We just kind of have to take the kids’ leads on this. … Over time, they’ll talk to their teachers and get what they need. We just have to listen to them.”

As for the surviving father and daughter, Wyatt said residents have offered housing, meals and money. The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Warwick’s Women’s Guild also provided food to emergency responders and other community members in Town Hall Saturday.

“That’s typical of Warwick,” Wyatt said. “We support our own.”


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