Grandmother dies, mother and 2 children believed dead, in Port Colborne fire
'There were people in the street yelling at us that there were people in the house,' fire chief says
An 83-year-old grandmother died and a mother and her two children are unaccounted for, but believed to be dead, after a fire ripped through their family home in Port Colborne, Ont.
"When we got here, there was heavy fire ... flames showing 10 feet [about three metres] over the house," said Port Colborne fire Chief Thomas Cartwright.
"There were people in the street yelling at us that there were people in the house."
Police have confirmed that a family lived in the home, and that the grandmother was pulled from the rubble and pronounced dead at the scene.
Three other residents of the home are unaccounted for. Neighbours identified them as Tammy Burd, 37, her daughter, Sam, 15, and son, Josh, 2.
Burd's husband managed to escape, police said.
Gavin also said in a tweet that the house has significant structural damage and "presently is not safe for investigators to enter."
Cartwright said it's very delicate and dangerous to get into the home due to fire damage and ice buildup on the house from water firefighters sprayed to try to put out the flames.
"It makes it very difficult," he said. "Trucks are freezing up."
Late Wednesday afternoon, Niagara police said weather was complicating attempts to find the three missing persons and that heavy equipment was being brought in to help investigators clear debris.
That effort will likely continue into Thursday.
Nickel Street is closed between Fares Street and Mitchell Street until further notice.
Welland Transit buses were used to house people forced from their homes due to smoke from the fire.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PTCFire?src=hash">#PTCFire</a> 3. We tragically have one confirmed deceased. We are not releasing age or gender pending notification of the next of kin.—@PCPhilGavin
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PTCFire?src=hash">#PTCFire</a> 4. Three people are unaccounted for.—@PCPhilGavin
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PTCFire?src=hash">#PTCFire</a> 8. Road closed. Nickel St btwn Fares St and Mitchell St. <a href="https://t.co/x7i4SJJKJ4">pic.twitter.com/x7i4SJJKJ4</a>—@PCPhilGavin
With files from The Canadian Press