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Grandmother dies, mother and 2 children believed dead, in Port Colborne fire

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.

'There were people in the street yelling at us that there were people in the house,' fire chief says

One body found, three people are missing 1:26

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.

Tammy Burd and her two children, including son Josh, pictured here, are unaccounted for and believed dead after a fire early Wednesday in Port Colborne, Ont. (Facebook)
The fire broke out overnight in the Lake Erie community on Nickel Street near the Welland Canal. Niagara police and local fire and EMS departments were called at around 1:20 a.m. ET Wednesday.

"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.

Burd's 15-year-old daughter Sam is shown holding her brother Josh, and another child. (Facebook)
Niagara Region Police Service Const. Phil Gavin said it was too early to determine the cause of the fire and that the province's fire marshal would investigate. 

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."

Firefighters battle the fire on Nickel Street in Port Colborne early Wednesday morning. (Dave Ritchie)

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.

 
 

With files from The Canadian Press