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Canada: 7 dead, including 4 children, after ‘devastating house fire’ in Calgary, family from Pakistan

Seven people from two families were killed in an early-morning fire in Chestermere, Alta. on Friday. Five others — an adult and four children — managed to escape.

The home was owned by Amjad Kamal, the man who survived the fire, neighbour Khaleel Bhatti told Postmedia. Amjad, his wife and his five children were hosting his brother Asad Kamal and his wife and three children for a barbecue, after which they stayed overnight, Bhatti said.

Khaleel Bhatti was on the scene on Friday afternoon. He said he knew the family, and had seen them often at prayers.

According to Bhatti, Kamal woke up to the fire and began working to rescue the children inside; he managed to save four of the kids, including one child as young as 1½.

Amjad survived the fire, but his brother Asad Kamal and their wives, Rafiya Kamal and Batool Rashid, all died in the blaze.

“It’s very devastating, it’s very sad,” Bhatti said. “It’s a deep sorrow and a deep mental stress.”

Syed Soharwardy with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada went to the scene of the burned home in Chestermere, just east of Calgary.

Soharwardy said a neighbour has surveillance video that shows the house went up in flames within about three minutes.

RCMP said the cause of the fire is under investigation but initial findings don’t suggest it was deliberately set.

They list the seven dead as: a man and a woman, both 38, a woman about 35-years-old, a boy and a girl aged 12, an eight-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy.

Soharwardy said the local mosque had a prayer for the family and he and others prayed outside the home.

Members of the community also want to set up a fundraiser for the man who survived, he said, but they are waiting for a relative to arrive from Toronto to discuss next steps.

“Most of their family is in Pakistan,” Soharwardy said.

Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer, who represents the area, was on-site following the fire, comforting residents.

“I just feel gutted for the loss of this beautiful family, and the children. It’s too much to bear,” Aheer told reporters through tears.

Mayor Marshall Chalmers called for the community to come together to grieve, listen and support those impacted in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

“Words cannot effectively express the devastation on our community. Our minds cannot fully comprehend the overwhelming loss. And our hearts ache for this family, this neighbourhood, and the community at large,” Chalmers said.

 

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