The chief of Mishkeegogamang First Nation in northwestern Ontario says the community has been immobilized by shock since a deadly house fire broke out last Thursday. 

"[It's] so sudden and shocking what's happened," Chief Connie Gray-McKay told CBC News on Monday. "It's going to take a very long time to ... recover from this."

The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service issued a news release Monday morning confirming the remains of four people had been found at the scene.

The release said the confirmation was the result of a joint investigation by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police Forensic Identification Service, the Ontario Fire Marshal, the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and the Office of the Chief Coroner.

Post-mortem examinations are to be conducted in Toronto later this week.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and updates will be released as they become available.

Support appreciated

The fire started at about 3 a.m. Feb. 13 in the community located about 320 km northwest of Thunder Bay.

Gray-McKay appealed to surrounding communities to help support Mishkeegogamang First Nation members in the coming days.

"Any sort of support that they can give us, we really appreciate it," she said. "Especially ... their prayers and good thoughts to be pushed our way because we really need that right now."

Gray-McKay added that food contributions would also be welcome, as many visitors are expected to arrive in the aftermath of the tragedy.