KANE, Man. — A mother was able to save three of her children, but four others died in an early-morning house fire Wednesday in a southern Manitoba rural municipality.
“The adults escaped. The three youngest children were saved by the mother. The four older children who were in the second level of a two-storey home perished in the blaze,” said Ralph Groening, reeve for the RM of Morris.
Groening said volunteer fire crews unsuccessfully tried to put up a ladder to the second-floor window as the home burned.
“The fire was too far advanced. They were unable to go into the building. It simply wasn’t safe.”
The parents were receiving medical care and their three surviving children were staying with friends, Groening said.
“One adult was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation resulting from his efforts to save his children.”
The municipality’s volunteer fire chief said it was the father who made the emergency call. The man saw smoke coming from his house as he was returning from work, Bernard Schellenberg said.
RCMP said the blaze broke out near the tiny community of Kane, about 95 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.
Schellenberg, who was not at the scene, said the emergency call came in at around 12:15 a.m. and about 20 volunteer firefighters from nearby communities responded in four trucks.
The two-story farmhouse was already engulfed in flames and smoke when crews arrived, he said.
“They went into a defensive strategy and they could not make entrance into the house due to heavy smoke and fire conditions.”
Environment Canada indicates the temperature in the Morris area at the time was -27 C with the wind chill.
The fire is under investigation by the Manitoba Fire Office and the RCMP, Schellenberg said.
A “critical incident stress debrief” was being set up to help the volunteer crews who responded, “so they can go through some of the emotions that come with a call like this,” he said.
“Our crews did the best they could with the conditions they had.”
Groening said the children’s deaths have hit the community hard.
“I can only imagine what the parents are going through, what the three children who are saved are going through, how they are responding to the loss of four siblings.
“It is a tragedy that will take a long time for them and for us to recover from.”