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Investigators ‘digging through the rubble’ to determine cause of deadly Evansburg fire

Click to play video: 'Investigators digging through the rubble to find cause of deadly Evansburg fire' Investigators digging through the rubble to find cause of deadly Evansburg fire
Investigators were back at the scene of a house fire west of Edmonton in Evansburg Thursday, where a 50-year-old woman and her teenage son were found dead. Kim Smith has the latest from the fire chief. – Jan 28, 2021

UPDATE: On Friday, Jan. 29, a preliminary report from the fire investigator indicated the house fire that occurred on Jan. 26 was not suspicious, Evansburg RCMP said. 

Investigators were back on scene of a fatal house fire west of Edmonton Thursday, trying to determine the cause of the deadly blaze.

A 50-year-old woman and her 16-year-old son were killed after a fire broke out in a duplex in the community of Evansburg early Tuesday morning. Two elderly people who were also inside the duplex — part of the same family — and were helped out of the home by an RCMP officer.

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 on Tuesday.

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Read more: Mother, teenage son found dead after duplex fire in Evansburg

On Thursday, the director of protective services for Yellowhead County said investigators are still working to determine where and how the fire started.

“At this time we don’t have a cause,” Albert Bahri said. “The fire was fully involved when RCMP arrived and fully involved when fire crews arrived. So understandably, we’re digging through the rubble that’s there to try to determine a cause but at this time, it’s undetermined.

“Because of the heavy fire involvement and the damage to the structure, right now it’s hard to determine exactly where the fire started.”

An RCMP officer first came upon the fire at around 3 a.m. Tuesday. Bahri said volunteer fire crews responded quickly but arrived to find flames coming from all the windows and the roof.

“Our volunteers have to come from home,” he said. “They come to the station, pick the equipment up and come to the call. So there’s nobody in the station at night. So the response was very rapid based on a volunteer response.”

Click to play video: 'Mother, teenage son found dead after duplex fire in Evansburg' Mother, teenage son found dead after duplex fire in Evansburg
Mother, teenage son found dead after duplex fire in Evansburg – Jan 27, 2021

With a population of less than 800 people, Bahri said the fire has affected the volunteer crews.

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“Having a fire in a small community like Evansburg affects everyone. Our firefighters knew the deceased people, they knew the business that they ran. It is a close-knit community and when things like this happens, it affects everybody,” he said.

“I don’t remember anything as devastating as this one in Evansburg that’s occurred in at least the last seven to 10 years.”

Bahri said the department has supports in place for those who need them, including distress and peer review teams.

“We try and take care of that larger family that we have.”

Bahri hopes investigators will determine the cause Thursday but said they will return on Friday if needed.

“We’re going to stay until we can determine everything that we can get out of the scene.”

Evansburg is located about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton.

A memorial forming at Evansburg Family Foods, Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A memorial forming at Evansburg Family Foods, Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A memorial forming at Evansburg Family Foods, Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A duplex fire in Evansburg, Alta., left two people dead. Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A duplex fire in Evansburg, Alta., left two people dead. Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News
A duplex fire in Evansburg, Alta., left two people dead. Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News
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A duplex fire in Evansburg, Alta., left two people dead. Jan. 27, 2021. Morris Gamblin, Global News

With files from Emily Mertz, Global News.

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