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

SAND LAKE, ONT. — Three children from the same family have died in a house fire in northwestern Ontario, a First Nations chief said Friday.

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

Firefighters rushed to the scene, 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 perished 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.”

Kakegamic said two planes with investigators, rescue police officers and two coroners were due to arrive at the remote First Nation today.

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 advisers have all been treated and are now at home resting.

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

Sandy Lake First Nation is approximately 600 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay, accessible only by air or winter road.

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

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