A tragic house fire in Chestermere claimed the lives of seven people on July 2, including four children.
According to press releases from the City of Chestermere and Chestermere RCMP, the fire engulfed a home in the Oakmere community at around 2:30 a.m. that morning.
“Two related family units were in the home at the time of the fire,” the release from the City stated. “One adult male and four children were able to escape the fire; tragically, seven other occupants were unable to.”
The seven deceased include an adult man and woman approximately 38 years old, an adult woman approximately 35 years old, two 12-year-olds (one male and one female), an eight-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy.
“Words cannot effectively express the devastation on our community," said Chestermere Mayor Marshall Chalmers in a statement on July 2. "Our minds cannot fully comprehend the overwhelming loss. And our hearts ache for this family, this neighbourhood, and the community at large.”
The adult male and the four children who escaped were assessed by EMS members, according to the press release, and the children were transported to hospital as a precaution.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ordered autopsies on the deceased which will be conducted in the coming days,” the release stated, adding a fire investigator and RCMP Forensic Identification Unit remained on scene to conduct further examination.
"The cause of the fire remains under investigation by Chestermere RCMP; however, the preliminary investigation does not indicate it to be criminal in nature.”
According to a Facebook post shared by the Chestermere Muslim Council, the house on Oakmere Close was owned by Br Amjad Kamal, his wife Batool Rashid and their five kids. Amjad's brother Asad, his wife Rafiya and their children were staying at the house overnight following Canada Day.
“Amjad was able to get his two kids and his two nieces (daughters of Asad Kamal) out safely but couldn't go back in time to save the others,” the post stated.
Out of respect for the grieving family and community, the City stated there will be no further comments from the municipality at this time.
“While many will feel helpless in the face of such heartbreak, all we can do is to join together to grieve, to listen, and to support those impacted," Chalmers said. “And I know that the community of Chestermere will do so with the greatest outpouring of love possible.”
In the days following the fire, residents left flowers and teddy bears at the site of the home, where a fence was erected around the charred building.
A vigil was held in Chestermere on July 5, while special prayers were held at Calgary's Green Dome mosque and at the Chestermere Islamic Centre, according to a report from the CBC.
A GoFundMe was also set up to help the family, with more than $113,000 raised as of July 8.