Probe ongoing as to cause of fatal fire

Posted: June 21, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — City officials continue to investigate the cause of a fire Wednesday that killed a 2-year-old local boy.

The city’s police department and fire marshal’s office — who are jointly investigating the blaze — will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. today to provide more details.

Christian Cruz, 2, was pulled from his family’s burning apartment at 300-302 N. Kent St. shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday and was later pronounced dead at Winchester Medical Center.

His mother, Sherry Dominguez, suffered second- and third-degree burns to her body, and injuries to her lungs and throat, said Marry Ford — who is engaged to Dominguez’s brother Lynwood Everhart.

She said Thursday that Dominguez remains in the Burn Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, but was doing “a little better.”

Ford added that Dominguez’s four other children — 4-week-old Anelia Dominguez, 3-year-old twins Jaime and Carlitos Cruz and Christian’s twin sister, Johanna Cruz — were doing “pretty good.”

Those children are staying at Ford’s and Everhart’s home in Remington, along with Dominguez’s mother — who visits her in the hospital every day.

City firefighters were dispatched to the blaze at 12:38 p.m. Tuesday, according to Chief Frank Wright.

They arrived at the house, which is divided into four apartments, at 12:42 p.m., and an ambulance left with Christian at 12:52 p.m., he said.

The cause remains under investigation.

Chris Poulous of Winchester owns the scorched apartment building and said he doesn’t know what could have caused the fire.

He added that no other tenants are currently staying in the building and he isn’t sure yet whether he plans to renovate the structure.

Since the fire, the community has been rallying in support of the family.

But police spokeswoman Lauren Cummings encouraged the community to be vigilant and aware of who they are making donations to.

She said the department had received at least one report of a possible scam involving donations to the victim’s family as of Thursday evening.

That report remains under investigation.

“Unfortunately during tragic times like these, people take advantage ... and not everyone is honest,” Cummings said.

Highland Memorial Presbyterian Church is accepting donations for the family. For more information, call the church — located at 446 Highland Ave. — at 540-662-0809.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com