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Three children died in Ontario. First Nations House Fire: Chief

Three children in a family died in a house fire in northwestern Ontario Thursday night as firefighters raced against time and hydrants inoperable, a First Nations chief said Friday. Nations.

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

Firefighters rushed to the house, but by the time they arrived the house 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 came home to help on Thursday night.

The three children who died in the fire were between the ages of around five and nine, she said.

“It’s awful,” she said, choking.

Kakegamic said firefighters did what they could.

“None of the fire hydrants were working and we only had one tanker truck driving back and forth as fast as it could,” Kakegamic said.

“The water kept freezing. The fire hydrants never work here.”

She said the community is devastated.

“Everyone is still in shock trying to figure out what just happened last night,” Kakegamic said.

“We ask for strength and prayers.”

She said Sandy Lake First Nation, located 600 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont., and accessible only by air or winter roads, expects help from the province shortly. .

Two planes with investigators, relief police and two coroners are expected to arrive at the remote First Nation later Friday, Kakegamic said.

Nishnawbe Aski Police are investigating the fire and say the OPP Identification Unit is assisting.

The Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario announced that it was sending three people to investigate the origin, cause and circumstances of the fire.

Kakegamic said firefighters don’t have masks, just those used to protect against COVID-19.

“They all suffered from smoke inhalation as well as about four advisers who were on hand to help, scouring the rubble to try and find the babies,” she said.

The firefighters and councilors were all treated and resting at home, she said.

“I commend our firefighters who are doing everything they can to come and go without a mask,” Kakegamic said.

Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, said he was in touch with Sandy Lake leaders and would offer assistance in any way that is.

“This tragedy is a tremendous shock, and words cannot express the grief we share with family and community,” Narcisse said in a statement.

He thanked first responders and other community members who helped out as temperatures hit a low of -31C early Friday morning.

“This tragedy comes at a very difficult time,” Narcisse said. “We encourage everyone to join the community in prayer and find ways to comfort each other as we mourn this terrible loss.”

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