Four children and three adults are dead after a house fire in Chestermere, a community east of Calgary, early Friday morning.
The fire broke out just after 2:30 a.m. in the community of Oakmere, RCMP said.
RCMP said the victims are two 12-year-olds, a boy and girl, an eight-year-old girl, a four-year-old boy, a 35-year-old woman and a man and woman, both 38.
A man and four children managed to escape the burning home and were taken to hospital as a precaution, according to police.
Chestermere Mayor Marshall Chalmers said words cannot effectively express the devastation.
“Our minds cannot fully comprehend the overwhelming loss, and our hearts ache for this family, this neighbourhood and the community at large,” Chalmers said.
“While many will feel helpless in the face of such heartbreak, all we can do is to join together to grieve, to listen and to support those impacted.
“I know that the community of Chestermere will do so with the greatest outpouring of love possible.”
The mayor thanked people across the province for thoughts and prayers as well as first responders.
Imam Syed Soharwardy with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said two Muslim families were in the home at the time of the fire.
“We need to gather together as a community and help this poor family,” said Leela Aheer, minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women, through tears.
“I just feel gutted. The loss of this beautiful family and the children, it’s just too much to bear.”
Neighbouring homes had to be evacuated, and nearby residents said they watched the flames shoot 15 metres into the air.
“It’s so devastating that they are all gone, and we have no words,” said community member Khaleel Bhatti.
“We need your help and support. This is the most difficult time.”
Premier Jason Kenney offered comments on the fatal blaze late Friday night, tweeting: “So terribly sad. My deepest condolences to the loved ones and friends of those lost in this devastating house fire in Chestermere, apparently one of the deadliest in Alberta history. RIP.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by Chestermere RCMP, but police said the preliminary investigation does not indicate that it was criminal in nature.
Fire investigators along with the RCMP forensic identification unit were on scene.