Three children dead in Ontario First Nation house fire, chief says

Three children ranging in age from about five to nine years old have died, says Sandy Lake First Nation Chief Delores Kakegamic.

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Three children from one family died in a house fire in northwestern Ontario, a First Nation chief said Friday.

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Sandy Lake First Nation Chief Delores Kakegamic said the fire began around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

Firefighters raced to the scene, but by the time they got there, the home was engulfed in flames, Kakegamic said.

“A mom was home with her six kids and the dad was at work, but we managed to get three out,” said Kakegamic, who went to the home to help Thursday night.

The three children who perished in the fire ranged in age from about five to nine years old, she said.

“It’s awful,” she said, choking up.

Kakegamic said the fire department did what they could.

“None of the fire hydrants were working and we only had one water truck running back and forth as fast as he could,” Kakegamic said. “The water kept freezing. The fire hydrants never work around here.”

She said the community is devastated.

“Everybody is still in shock trying to comprehend what just developed last night,” Kakegamic said. “We’re asking for strength and prayers.”

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Kakegamic said two planes with investigators, relief police officers and two coroners are set to arrive in the remote First Nation today.

Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal said they are sending in three people to investigate the origin, cause and circumstance of the fire.

Kakegamic said the firefighters have no masks, just those used to protect against COVID-19.

“They all suffered smoke inhalation along with about four councillors who were on hand helping, going through the rubble trying to find the babies,” she said.

The firefighters and councillors were all treated and are now at home resting.

“I commend our firefighters doing all they could running back and forth with no masks,” Kakegamic said.

Sandy Lake First Nation is about 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, accessible only by plane or winter road.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2022.

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