Town of Amherst remembers family of 6 killed in tragic fire

Click to play video: 'Memorial held for N.S. family killed in travel trailer fire'
Memorial held for N.S. family killed in travel trailer fire
The community of Amherst came together Friday to say goodbye to the Sears family. The couple and four children died in a tragic fire earlier this month. As Callum Smith tells us, they’re being remembered for the lives they lived – Sep 24, 2021

The community of Amherst, N.S., came together in a sad — but moving — public service for the family who lost their lives in a travel trailer fire in Millvale nearly two weeks ago.

The blaze on Sept. 12 claimed the young lives of 30-year-old Robert Jorge (R.J.) Sears, his partner, 28-year-old Michelle Robertson, and their four children, Madison, 11, Robert Ryder, 8, Jaxson, 4, and Colin (C.J.), 3.

“One child gone is too many,” said Robertson’s cousin, Michelle Ferdinand, during the subdued ceremony. “Four plus two is beyond what our hearts and minds can comprehend.”

Read more: N.S. ‘family that could’ perished at rural getaway they had created this summer

The family was killed during an outing to celebrate the third birthday of the youngest child.

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The provincial fire marshal’s office has ruled the fire as accidental, saying it determined that the fire was small but smouldered and created “a lot of smoke and fumes.”

But Ferdinand wants the family to be remembered as who they were rather than how they died.

A memorial has been set up in Amherst, N.S. for a family of six found dead after a camper fire. Callum Smith/Global News

She described R.J. as being “genuinely kind” and adored by his parents, co-workers and friends. A true outdoorsman, he had a passion for camping and hunting.

And Michelle “is the definition of perseverance with a smile,” said Ferdinand. “Always knocking down any and all obstacles to make her children’s life the best it could be.”

The four children — big sister Maddy, and brothers Ryder, Jaxson and C.J. — were extremely close and “absolutely loved each other,” she said.

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“This summer in particular, they made so many wonderful memories,” said Ferdinand. “They were the best I have ever seen them, so happy and so close.”

‘Love is the most important thing’

David Kogon, the mayor of Amherst, said losing an entire family at once is a hard concept to grapple with.

“You can’t help but feel for an entire family being lost with four young ones, but it brings the community together, as you can see from the turnout at today’s service,” he said.

“I’ve never been through anything like this. And I think to start the grieving process, one really has to begin with this (service).”

Read more: Obituary published in Amherst, N.S., describes family of six who died in trailer fire

Meanwhile, families and friends are left trying to move forward.

“It’s hard not to ask why or how, to which we will never fully know the answer,” said Ferdinand.

“All I know is that if I do not take on board that love is the most important thing, and that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, then to me, this tragedy goes in vain.”

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Click to play video: 'Tight-knit Town Remembers Family of Six Killed In Fire'
Tight-knit Town Remembers Family of Six Killed In Fire

— with files from Callum Smith

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