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Candle blamed for fatal house fire

An unattended candle on the front porch of a Fredonia home is the most likely cause of a blaze that took the lives of two boys last month, Chautauqua County sheriff's officials reported Thursday.

The fire, which broke out about 4 a.m. Sept. 21 at 160 Water St., resulted in the deaths of Dawson McKinnon, 10, and his brother Clayton, 3.

Chautauqua County fire investigators ruled the fire accidental.

The parents of the two boys and their 13-year-old brother were blocked from making it down a stairway, and they escaped the burning house by jumping from a third-story window.

Firefighters arrived to find the two adults and one child outside the house, which was fully engulfed in flames. Dawson and Clayton were trapped on the second floor and could not be rescued because of the intense smoke and flames.

Jennifer McKinnon, 34, the mother of the boys, remained at the Erie County Medical Center late Thursday. She was listed in fair condition.

The boys' father, Michael McKinnon, 35, was treated at a hospital and was discharged shortly after the blaze. Brody, the boys' teenage brother, was taken to Women and Children's Hospital in Buffalo after the fire and has since been discharged.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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