Young brother and sister dead in central Alberta house fire
Five people managed to escape the fire, officials say
A four-year-old girl and one-year-old boy were killed in a house fire Wednesday near the hamlet of Buck Lake, Alta., RCMP confirmed Friday.
The two young children were siblings, CBC News learned from family members.
The fire broke out around 11 a.m. at the home near Township 465 and Range Road 630.
RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine said the children had been trapped inside.
"This is just a tragedy. It's terrible," Fontaine said in an interview Friday.
"Our hearts to go out the families for their loss, these children. This is a very tragic time. Unimaginable."
Fontaine said RCMP officers were conducting an unrelated investigation near the property when they spotted the house in flames and called fire crews to the scene.
Two adults told officers that two children were trapped inside. But once firefighters arrived, the fire was too intense for crews to enter the building, Fontaine said.
"Re-entry to the residence was not possible," Fontaine said. "They couldn't even enter the dwelling because of how involved the fire was."
After the fire was brought under control, hours later, the children's remains were recovered, Fontaine said.
"There were still some hot spots that remained even when the search for the children was conducted," she said.
Five people managed to escape the fire, RCMP said.
By Friday morning, two teddy bears, one for each sibling, sat side by side in a makeshift memorial at the end of a lane leading to the family home.
Children's bikes and toys sat in the yard near the charred remains of the property.
The RCMP major crimes unit, the RCMP general investigation section along with fire and forensic teams are investigating, RCMP said.
Police said they are still waiting official report from the fire investigator on a possible cause and whether it's been deemed criminal.
Victim services is involved, Fontaine said.
Neighbour heard 'explosion, a very loud noise'
Pat Hauser lives in a subdivision across the road from the house and was inside her home when she heard a loud bang on Wednesday morning.
"There was an explosion, a very loud noise, and not long after, there were sirens," she said.
When she saw a plume of smoke, she got into a golf cart and drove toward the scene.
There, she saw a house engulfed in flames and several young adults sitting at the end of the driveway speaking to police officers.
She was immediately concerned not to see children with them, because she had seen small children at the property before.
"I didn't see the kids and so I was hoping they had gone off with their parents," she said. "You know, had only been visiting for a while, or something. But unfortunately, the two little ones, they didn't make it."
CBC has confirmed there have been two recent fires on the property. Twice before, emergency crews had shown up to extinguish fires in shacks on the property, Hauser said.
Our hearts to go out the families for their loss, these children. This is a very tragic time. Unimaginable.- RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine
Rob Gangl, who lives in the same subdivision, saw a massive plume of black smoke while he was doing yard work at around the same time. He hopped in his truck to investigate, worried a nearby fire might spread to his property on such a hot and windy day.
He found the house across the road completely ablaze and members of the local volunteer fire department on the scene.
Drinkwater said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Buck Lake is about 150 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.