Toddler killed in Portage fire identified

Photo: WKOW

UPDATE:  Fire inspector Craig Ratz tells the Portage Daily Register that the blaze was started by the boy's 4 year old sister, who was playing with matches.


PORTAGE (WKOW) -- It's been more than 24 hours since a fire broke out at the Ram Hotel Sunday taking the life of a toddler, Damien Lawless.

Emotions were still high with Damien's father, Chad Lawless, who called the toddler "his little guy." So it was heartbreaking for Lawless to wake up Monday morning and not see his son's smiling face.

“I was expecting to see my son, but he wasn't there,” Lawless said.

The toddler died after Lawless and police efforts to rescue him from the fire Sunday morning failed.

Lawless said he was asleep when he was awakened by his daughter to a smoke-filled room.

“I opened up my eyes and seen smoke in my bedroom and I started to panic,” he said. “And at that point I realized there was a significant fire that was somewhere in my apartment.”

He tried frantically to try to save his 20-month-old son.

“The only thing that was going through my head was I gotta save my son. I gotta save my son.”

The grief-stricken father talks about his Damien's infectious nature and the impact he had on the family in such a short time.

“He was the most lovable little boy you would ever set your eyes on. He was so happy, loved everybody.”

Lawless says his son could have done a lot of great things.

“He was very good at paying attention. I think he could have [gone] very far in his life.”

Damien may no longer be with us, but Lawless knows he'll always be watching over the family.

“I miss him. I miss him so much.”

The family held a candlelight vigil for the young boy Monday night in front of the apartment building.

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