News

Seven Syrian Refugee Children Dead After Halifax House Fire

A neighbour of the family said the children’s ages range from three months to 17-years-old.

by Mack Lamoureux
Feb 19 2019, 5:00pm

Seven children who came to Canada as Syrian refugees died early this morning after a devastating fire ripped through their home.

The fire took place early Tuesday morning at a home in Spryfield—a community inside Halifax. In a press release, Halifax Police confirmed the fatalities.

“Following this morning’s fire on Quartz Drive in Spryfield, Halifax Regional Police and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency confirm that there are seven fatalities resulting from the incident,” reads the press release. “All deceased are believed to be young children from the same family. A woman and a man remain in hospital.”

Police have said the man’s injuries are life-threatening, whereas the women’s injuries are not.

According to a Facebook post put up by Halifax’s Ummah Masjid and Community Center, the family were Syrian refugees. The Chronicle Herald, speaking to someone who knew the family, reported the family devastated by the fire came to Canada about a year and a half ago and was described as a “young family.”

A neighbour of the family told the CBC that she was alerted to the fire by a “loud bang.”

"I heard a huge bang, and I was laying in bed with my daughter, followed by a woman screaming, so I jumped up out of bed and looked out the back window and all I could see was flames shooting out from the back door going out onto their deck," Danielle Burt told the national broadcaster adding the house “went up really quickly."

She said the children aged from three months to 17 years. Burt told the Canadian Press that while she took her children outside and once she got outside she found a horrific scene.

"The mother was on the grass, praying I guess, bowing her hands down, and pulling on my husband's arm to call 911," Burt told CP. "She said the kids were inside and the dad was sitting on the steps. I think he had gone back in because he was really burnt. It was just awful."

District Chief Mike Blackburn told media that the department was contacted about the fire at around 12:45 AM early Tuesday morning and that “when the crews arrived, we had a heavy volume of fire on the second floor.” Blackburn said that they contained the fire quickly thereafter.

Photos of the front of the home show the top floor completely gutted and charred, but it’s photo of the rear of the home that show the true devastation with the roof and back wall being completely burned out.

Many online are offering their condolences to the family. The police department, in their press release said, “our thoughts are with the family, community and all first responders involved at this difficult time.” Meanwhile, Mike Savage, the mayor of Halifax, tweeted out “our entire municipality is heartbroken and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the family.”

Police say the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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