A house fire Saturday killed a 2-year-old boy at Rockland Ranch — a polygamous community in southeast Utah.
Adonijah Jahiah John Foster was pronounced dead about 30 minutes after the fire started, said his father, Enoch Foster.
The birth of Adonijah was seen in the first few minutes of the first episode of his family’s documentary television show, “Three Wives, One Husband.” The show premiered last year in Britain and recently aired in the United States on the TLC Network. Adonijah was the 17th of his father’s 20 children and the seventh of eight children born to his mother, Lillian Foster.
“It brings his mother comfort knowing she chose to share his birth with so many — that so many got the opportunity to meet him,” Enoch Foster said Wednesday.
The family lives in Rockland Ranch, a community near Moab where the homes are built into the side of a slickrock mesa. The Foster homes consist of three apartments.
Enoch Foster struggled Wednesday to explain the fire, saying his surviving children have been unable to tell him exactly what happened. He said Adonijah had been playing with matches earlier Saturday, but an older sister took them away from him.
“I’m unsure if maybe he still had some matches,” Enoch Foster said. “Maybe there was something smoldering that [his sister] didn’t see. And we don’t know if it was him or maybe his older brother that was playing with them.”
Adonijah was placed for a nap while his mother worked on grape vines outside the house and Enoch Foster worked elsewhere on the ranch, the father said. The fire began in the bedroom where the toddler was sleeping.
A 7-year-old sister in the house went running into the bedroom and got a 3-year-old boy out, Enoch Foster said. Then the sister tried to get Adonijah.
“She said she was able to grab Adonijah’s hand but couldn’t get him to come out or … I’m not sure,” Enoch Foster said.
A 17-year-old sister ran from downstairs to try to help and wound up getting her eyelashes singed, the father said.
Enoch Foster said a son ran and alerted him to what happened. He put on a paint mask and used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.
Crying, Enoch Foster described finding Adonijah’s badly burned body.
A neighbor who is a nurse arrived and started CPR. A San Jan County Sheriff’s deputy soon arrived and helped with CPR, too.
A medical helicopter landed at the ranch, but no patients were flown. Enoch Foster said a crew member from the helicopter pronounced his son dead. Two other children were driven to a hospital to be examined. Enoch Foster said everyone returned home Saturday night.
The family has been living in the two remaining apartments while the damaged apartment is being renovated. Neighbors and the local ward from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which officially abandoned polygamy in 1890, have been providing food, Enoch Foster said.
Enoch Foster remembered Adonijah as a mischievous boy who would give a big grin when he was caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to do — like the time he was found emptying a jar of applesauce.
Services for Adonijah will be Sunday at Rockland Ranch.
“And then in a week or so, I think we’re just going to take a family trip and get away for a while,” Enoch Foster said.