A 69-year-old woman died and her 61-year-old brother suffered serious injuries in what firefighters described as an intense house fire in Sydney Mines on Monday night.
Emergency crews were called to the green, two-storey house at 36 Pitt St. around 9 p.m.
"There was a lot of fuel inside the home, a lot of paper and boxes and stuff that was stored in there, there was a big fuel load," said deputy fire chief John MacPherson.
"It made the fire quite intense starting off."
Firefighters said the 61-year-old man managed to get out an upstairs window and on to the roof, where he was rescued and taken to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney before being transported to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.
His 69-year-old sister was found dead in the kitchen.
While the house is still standing, all the windows are smashed and blackened. There are scorch marks on the siding and sodden debris strewn across the lawn.
"There was a pile of smoke coming everywhere and they were trying to put the fire out," said Douglas MacMillan, who lives across the street.
"I don't think they could get in or anything."
Neighbours described the siblings as quiet and friendly.
The medical examiner's office has been called in and the fire department is investigating. RCMP Staff Sgt. Ken O'Neill said police are still trying to figure out what happened.
"Presently we have police personnel on the scene to secure the residential area, and furthermore we'll be assigning an investigator to follow along with the investigation as well," he said.
Police are asking anyone with information about what happened to call.