Special prayers were held at Calgary’s Green Dome mosque and at the Chestermere Islamic Centre east of the city in honour of seven members of the same family who perished in a house fire early Friday.
Imam Syed Soharwardy, with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, says relatives of the family, some of whom have just arrived in Alberta from Ontario in the wake of the tragedy, watched livestreams of the services.
Soharwardy, who knows the family, says they’re still in shock.
Chestermere Mayor Marshall Chalmers says in a statement that “words cannot effectively express the devastation on (the) community.”
After recently arriving from Ontario, a man, along with his wife and children, had his brother and his wife and children staying at the home when the fire erupted.
RCMP have said the cause of the fire is under investigation but initial findings don’t suggest it was deliberately set.
“In our Islamic terminology, anybody who died because of these kind of tragedies, they are considered as martyrs,” Soharwardy said in an interview Saturday.
“Everybody is very much in sadness. It’s shocking that seven members of this family died in this tragic accident.”
Police have listed the seven dead: a man and a woman, both 38, a woman about 35 years old, a boy and a girl aged 12, an eight-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy.
A man and four children managed to escape the burning home and were taken to hospital as a precaution, according to police.
Most members of the family are from Pakistan, Soharwardy said.
Chalmers thanked emergency responders for their efforts, and also thanked people across Alberta for their thoughts and prayers.
“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,” the mayor said in his statement.
“And I know that the community of Chestermere will do so with the greatest outpouring of love possible.”
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.”
— With files from Global News