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Two dead, three more in hospital following a house fire in a remote First Nation community

The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service crest on a brick wall. (File Photo/CTV News Northern Ontario) The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service crest on a brick wall. (File Photo/CTV News Northern Ontario)
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A house fire that killed two people and injured three remains under investigation by police.

In an update Sunday, the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (NAPS) confirmed that two adults were killed in the fire in Peawanuck First Nation on Thursday. Three other people were injured and remain in hospital.

Nishnawbe Aski Police Service (File photo)

"The exact nature of their injuries is not known at this time," said police in the news release.

NAPS said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing with assistance from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, Ontario Provincial Police, the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service.

No details on the cause of the fire or the identity of the victims have been released by police.

Residents of Peawanuck First Nation are mourning the loss of two people following a house fire on Feb. 1/24. (File photo)

Peawanuck or Weenusk First Nation is a remote community in northern Ontario – located about 30 kilometres south of Hudson Bay.

Painful memories

The tragedy comes a little more than a year after a 10-year-old girl died in a fire in the community, which had prompted calls to ensure fire services were available.

Only days before the tragedy this year, Timmins-James Bay MP renewed calls for fire service to Treaty 9 communities after a fire left hundreds of students in northern Ontario without a school.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and the Executive Council issued a statement about the fire, which read in part, "Our thoughts have been with the entire Peawanuck community since we heard about this tragedy."

The council said mental health and other support workers have been mobilized and they are doing everything possible to assist.

"Miigwetch to the first responders and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority for providing care for the survivors and much-needed supports to the family and community," the statement reads.

The council added that federal funding was approved in 2022 for a new fire truck in the community but it is still not operational.

"This tragedy highlights the ever-present danger of fire, especially in remote First Nations, which are at unnecessary risk due to the chronic lack of fire-firefighting, fire prevention, and emergency services," they said.

"We have lost far too many members to house fires and other tragedies that may have been preventable had the proper resources been available. Our leaders are frustrated that these tragedies continue to happen despite our best efforts to secure the resources they so desperately need."

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation Executive Council said this incident will renew efforts to improve safety in First Nation communities.

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