The bodies of a 50-year-old woman and her 16-year-old son have been found at the site of a house fire in Evansburg, Alta., the RCMP said on Wednesday.
The fire broke out a day earlier but police said the significant damage and debris left behind made the recovery effort difficult.
On Tuesday, the RCMP said an officer saw a multi-family residential duplex on fire shortly after 3 a.m.
The Yellowhead County Fire Department was called and the RCMP officer managed to rescue two elderly people inside.
“However, it’s believed two remaining residents of one half of the duplex — an adult female and a teen — were unable to leave one of the duplexes before it became engulfed,” RCMP said in a news release.
Cpl. Deanna Fontaine said the roof and walls collapsed in the firefight and there was a significant amount of water. Heavy duty equipment was needed to remove large pieces and get rid of water.
The fire was extinguished at around 9 a.m.
“We opened up the curtains and looked across and the duplex was on fire,” said neighbour Janice Manchester. “It was just flames going and it just freaked me out. I was thinking, ‘I hope the people get out,’ and then when we found out two people died that we knew really well, it was very sad.”
Evansburg RCMP, Forensic Identification Services and an investigator for the Alberta Office of the Fire Commissioner were at the scene to investigate.
Fontaine said all four people at the home were family members but wouldn’t specify how they were related.
In a news release issued Wednesday, police said the two family members’ bodies were found at about 2:45 p.m. with the help of a cadaver dog trained in recovery efforts.
“The Evansburg RCMP continue to investigate this incident and have not yet received a formal report from the fire investigator for the Alberta Office of the Fire Commission(er),” police said.
The Member of Parliament for Yellowhead identified the family in a message on Facebook.
“The Han Family, owners of Evansburg Family Foods, had a tragic fire at their home this morning where two family members died,” Gerald Soroka wrote.
“The Hans are very generous, community-minded people who have supported Evansburg for the past 20 years. Now they need our support.”
A GoFundMe page also identifies the Evansburg family.
The creator, Mary Finch, describes them as “a huge part of supporting this town.”
“They are always there to help any way they can possibly do if anyone needs anything,” she wrote. “Always greeting you with smiles, remembering your name, ask about your day, and ask if there is anything you need.
“Now the tables have turned. They need us.”
“It’s sad because it’s so close to home,” said Susan Bucknell. “It really touches everybody.
“I know they already have donations coming in, a fund for them. Last I heard it was at $22,000,” she said. “The community comes together.”
Evansburg is about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton.