4 found dead after house fire in rural northern Alberta community

RCMP say they received a report of a house fire in Fox Lake early Saturday morning and arrived to find the residence destroyed.  (CBC - image credit)
RCMP say they received a report of a house fire in Fox Lake early Saturday morning and arrived to find the residence destroyed. (CBC - image credit)

Update: On Nov. 15, Fox Lake RCMP confirmed the deceased have been identified as a seven-year-old girl, an eight-year-old boy, a 78-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman. All were residents of Fox Lake. Police did not release the victims' names. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Four people are dead after a fire ripped through a home Saturday in the remote northern Alberta community of Fox Lake.

RCMP have not yet confirmed the identities of the deceased, but police believe that children are among the dead, said Cpl. Troy Savinkoff.

Two children, a five-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy, managed to escape the burning home, Savinkoff said.

Police believe the children made their way to the home of a neighbour before they were taken to the Fox Lake nursing station where they were treated for for non-life-threatening injuries.

"They were able to exit the home, whether on their own or possibly with assistance," Savinkoff said.

The remains of the four dead were discovered inside the burning home on Sunday, with the assistance of fire investigators and a cadaver dog.

The people who died have not yet been positively identified.

But Conroy Sewepagaham, chief of the Little Red River Cree Nation, said the victims were the surviving children's grandparents and two of their younger relatives.

"I know the two little ones are doing their best to deal with this loss and their mom was taking it pretty hard," Sewepagaham told CBC News.

"We're doing our best to come together as a community but also show the family that things like this really affect everyone."

RCMP in Fox Lake were called to the scene on Barge Road around 6:40 a.m. on Saturday. By the time officers arrived, the home was destroyed and likely had been on fire for some time, RCMP said.

"Fire investigators were flown into the community along with cadaver dogs and an investigation and search took place and there were four deceased people found within that house," Savinkoff said.

RCMP are working with the medical examiner to identify the people who died and confirm the cause of death, he said.

"It was a fairly remote location of the first nation community so communication was a little difficult and it appears that could been part of the delay, why eventually it was the nursing station that called it in."

The investigation is ongoing but the fire does not appear suspicious, RCMP said.

A candlelight vigil was held late Sunday night in front of the high school in Fox Lake.

Classes at the high school and elementary school were cancelled for Monday and Tuesday, according to Gord Breen, education director for Little Red River Cree Nation.

Breen said a decision would be made on Tuesday whether to reopen the schools on Wednesday. He said he wants to ensure support services are in place for staff and students.

Fox Lake is about 150 kilometres east of High Level and about 550 kilometres north of Edmonton.