UPDATE: Multiple fatalities after house fire in Nova Scotia
A Nova Scotia community is shaken after a fire left several people dead and sent another to hospital in the Yarmouth area early Sunday morning, officials said.
RCMP said they were on the scene in Pubnico Head on Sunday after receiving a call about a house fire shortly after midnight.
Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said there were multiple fatalities, but could not confirm how many, or the ages of the deceased.
Two people escaped the fire, one of whom has been taken to hospital, Clarke said. She said police have spoken to the families of the deceased.
"I cannot imagine how any family member would take news like this," Clarke told reporters on Sunday. "This is a horrible, horrible tragedy for anyone to experience."
Clarke said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but did not say whether it is believed to be suspicious.
Clarke said the RCMP are in early stages of a "complex" investigation, which will be assisted by the force's Major Crime Unit, the Nova Scotia Office of the Fire Marshal and the province's medical examiner.
Dozens of firefighters from several departments in the area were sent to the scene, and arrived to find the home fully engulfed in flames, said Troy Amirault, deputy chief of the West Pubnico Fire Department.
Crews battled the blaze for a couple of hours, he said, but the house was destroyed, with only one wall left standing.
Kathy Bourque, a municipal councillor in Pubnico Head, said the deaths have devastated the small community on Nova Scotia's southwest coast.
"Everybody knows everybody here in the community, so we're a close-knit family," Bourque said in an interview. "When tragic things like this hits, it hits everybody."
Bourque said she learned about the fatal fire from her husband, a firefighter who responded to the scene.
"My heart sank to my feet," she said. "I can't imagine myself being those people in the family's shoes. It's unreal."
The Canadian Red Cross and the municipality have offered to help the family with food, lodging and other basic needs, she said.