A boy afraid of the dark dies in caravan fire

Isaac Stace afraid of the dark died in caravan after father Steve Stace lit a candle in caravan at Melinga near Taree

  • Little boy, 5, tragically killed in caravan fire
  • Death a “kick in the guts” for beautiful family
  • “It happened so quickly, it’s just such a shame”
Isaac Stace

Five year old Isaac Stace died in a fire-ravaged caravan at a property near Taree, NSW, after his father lit a candle. Picture: Adam Ward

A FIVE-year-old boy died in a caravan fire after his father lit a candle so his son wouldn’t be afraid of the dark.

Steven Stace had only recently moved to a property at Melinga, near Taree, with his wife and three children and they were sleeping in a caravan until they could build a new house.

The 41-year-old put his son Isaac to bed about 7pm on Saturday after lighting a candle because the caravan had no electricity and joined his wife, the couple’s baby and their oldest son in an old dairy they had converted into a kitchen and lounge about 30m away.

Inspector Neil Stephens said about two hours later, while the family was watching TV, the father saw flames coming from the van.

“The little boy was worried about the darkness so his dad left a burning candle for him in the caravan so that he’d have some light,” Insp Stephens said.

“He tried to put the blaze out with a bucket and water.

“At this point, the best explanation we have is the candle caused the fire.”

Taree detectives and crime scene specialists examined the charred remains of the caravan yesterday. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

But Insp Stephens said police were treating the little boy’s death as simply a “terrible accident”.

A charred pram and a few other items were all that remained yesterday inside the gutted caravan.

A Rural Fire Service spokeswoman said the volunteer crews, mostly local farmers, were offered counselling.

Webb Bros Taree livestock sale yards will hold a minute’s silence before their first auction this morning in tribute to Isaac and his parents.

Auctioneer Dave Callaughan said they were “a beautiful family” who had recently bought and sold sheep and calves as their fledgling farm was getting off the ground.

“This just feels a kick in the guts,” he said.

“They’d only moved from out west (NSW) and they were doing it a bit tough.

“I’ve spoken to Steve and he’s just devastated as you can imagine, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone. They are just the nicest couple you could imagine.”

Isaac was due to start school today.

Neighbour Heidi Hamming said the blond-haired boy would always wave and say hello when the family collected their mail from the end of Innes Lane.

“He was always smiling, just a happy little kid,” she said. “It’s just such a shame.

“The first we knew of it fire trucks and ambulances and police cars were rushing up the lane.

“We took coffee up to the police about 4am and the fire started back up but the officer put it out with an extinguisher. It happened so quickly, you just don’t expect something like that so close to home.”

Mrs Hamming’s daughter Montana, 8, picked flowers yesterday and put them on the Staces’ letterbox.

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