Four children are dead after a weekend house fire at a home in the small community of Pubnico Head, N.S., two family members say.
CBC News has confirmed the fatalities with members of two of the families affected. RCMP say two people escaped the fire and one of them was hospitalized.
Ervin Olsen said his two great grandchildren died. The two other children that were in the home were not his relations and an adult remained in hospital Sunday night, he said.
Réal Boudreau said his son lost a loved one. He said the loss is "devastating."
"For four people, whether it be a group of children, a group of adults, a mixture of the above — it doesn't matter. Something like this will devastate a community," he said.
Fire marshal investigating
Kathy Bourque, a municipal councillor in Pubnico Head, said she knows the man who lived in the house and the tight-knit community is reeling.
Bourque said her husband, a firefighter with East Pubnico Fire Department, returned home from fighting the blaze early Sunday morning and told her the news.
"I'm feeling very sad, very devastated for the family," she said. "You put yourself in their situation and you can't imagine what they're going through."
Halifax RCMP said the medical examiner's office and the fire marshal are investigating. The site is about 260 kilometres from the city and officials were travelling to there from the city on Sunday.
The RCMP's forensic identification section and major crimes division are also investigating. Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said they haven't determined whether the fire was suspicious.
Home completely destroyed
Troy Amirault, deputy chief with the West Pubnico Fire Department, said they got a call just after midnight early Sunday morning about the fire on Highway 3 not far from Pubnico, N.S.
"The flames were coming out through the roof and through the upstairs windows and through the downstairs windows," he said.
About 50 volunteer firefighters battled the fire for two hours but the home was completely destroyed. Firefighters remained at the scene through the day putting out hot spots, said Fire Chief Gordon Amiro. Frigid temperatures made their work challenging because some equipment froze, he said.
"We do the best we can to put it out. With the circumstances about the cold, some of the stuff was freezing up ... the cold is not good," he said.
Grief counsellors at elementary school
The vice principal of Drumlin Heights elementary school in Argyle said there will be grief counsellors at the school Monday morning.
Colleen d'Entremont said two of the children were students.
The Municipality of Argyle is working to gather food and clothing and find out what else is needed, she said.
"Everybody knows everybody around here so when something tragic like this happens, everybody gets together. They don't leave anybody without," said Bourque.