The story of how a fire killed a family of 5 in Seneca county has offered few answers for investigators, but continues for another family member who doesn't understand.
The investigation into the fire that killed 12-year-old Olivia Bondy, 8-year-old Jaxon Hamilton, 6-year-old Linkin Hamilton and their parents, Joseph and Holly Hamilton, has turned up little in the way of possible causes. Officials report that the damage is too extensive to determine where the fire originated, but the heating system and wood burner were ruled out as possibilities. They say it may have been a space heater or smoking.
And then, there is Harley, an aging yellow labrador with a little extra weight on his sides.
The Hamilton's family dog was sitting near the burned remains of his old house when I pulled up on Monday. When I got out of my vehicle, he excitedly ran up to me and affectionately said hello by giving my nose a little nibble - labrador owners (as I am) will surely understand - and a lick across the face.
After a few calls to the school the children attended, it was discovered that Harley in fact belonged to the family that perished in the fire.
I couldn't in good conscious leave him there as he sat waiting in front of the memorial which is placed in front of what remains of the house. I loaded him in my work vehicle (which he happily entered), and started toward to closest shelter while making calls to find out more info about Harley's well-being.
After a few more calls, I got the number to the grandmother of the children, what I understand to be Joseph Hamilton's mother. She told me that she would send someone to come and get Harley, and said she's already taken in the other dog from the house. She said she would have taken Harley earlier but he was too frantic when she first came for the other dog. A neighbor said they would look after the dog for the time being.
After waiting a short while, some relatives did show up, introducing themselves as Holly Hamilton's uncle and step-mother. They had come to take Harley and were visibly shaken upon seeing him. They did tell me they would figure out what will be done with this old guy, who as I saw it has looks that are soft and cuddly, with a demeaner to match. In my opinion, Harley was extremely sweet and caring. He seemed a big, ham of a dog. The type that would come from a happy home and a lot of love.
WNWO plans on following up on what becomes of Harley in the future.