B.C. motorhome fire leaves 2 children dead
Grandmother and partner are being treated in Kamloops hospital
Two children who died in a fire that swept through a motorhome in the Fraser Canyon northeast of Vancouver were pulled from the blaze by their grandmother and her partner, the RCMP said in releasing more details about the tragedy.
The children died at the hospital in Kamloops after they were pulled from the fire overnight Wednesday, RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Thursday morning.
The children were camping with their grandmother and her common-law husband at a decommissioned airstrip north of Lytton.
A fire broke out just before midnight at the front of the 35-foot (11-metre) motorhome. The man was awakened by the smoke alarms and two family dogs barking inside the motorhome.
He woke his wife and the two managed to make their way to the front of the motorhome where the children were sleeping in a pull-out compartment.
They found the children still breathing. The man then slipped out a window and the woman pushed the children out to him.
When the woman collapsed, the man re-entered the motorhome to pull her out with the help of other people at the campsite, said police.
Ambulance crews transported the four to hospital in Kamloops for treatment, but the children did not survive.
The grandmother and her partner are being treated in hospital. The parents of the children have been notified, said police.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it is believed to have started in the driver's seat area, police said.
The family dogs did not survive the fire.
The couple camped at the location as part of a road work crew that had recently set up in the area, police said.
Counsellors sent to child's school
Police later identfied the children as Ava-Mae Classen, 5, and Austin Classen, 4. The children lived with their mother in Armstrong, in the north Okanagan region of B.C.
Grief counsellors spent the day talking to students and staff at Highland Park Elementary in Armstrong where Ava-Mae was a Grade 1 student.
Dave Witt, the superintendent for District 83, said it's a small community where everyone knows each other, making the loss of the two children particularly difficult.
"All I have to say is that our hearts go out to the family. It's a sad day in a small community," he said.
The children's father lives in Surrey.