Support sought for families affected by fatal Nanoose fire

Nanoose First Nation has set up two trust funds to support the families affected by a fatal fire on the reserve early Wednesday.

Two brothers, aged seven and nine, died in what police call a tragic, accidental blaze. The boys were brought to the house for safekeeping the night before due to high winds and the danger of trees falling on their own house.

The family of four that lived in the house – two adults and two children – escaped the fire, but had no contents insurance and lost all of their possessions.

The fire happened around 5 a.m. Jan. 25. Police say the two adults woke up to the sound of the fire alarm and smoke in the residence and tried unsuccessfully to put out the fire. The couple tried to rescue the two deceased brothers, but were unable to.

The blaze levelled the home, leaving just a charred frame, then spread to the family's two cars parked in the yard and melted some of the vinyl siding on neighbouring houses.

Ennis Mond, fire investigator with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, who is investigating the fire on behalf of the Office of the Fire Commissioner, said details about cause of the fire are expected to be released early next week.

A press release from Nanoose First Nation states the community is deeply saddened by the loss of the two young children.

"It's a close-knit community," said Brent Edwards, director of operations. "Right now we're really focused on supporting the families and the community."

The community has received numerous offers of support so far, he added.

A grief centre was set up temporarily in collaboration with Kw'umut Lelum Child and Family Services, Intertribal Health Authority and RCMP Victim Services, which community members are encouraged to attend.

Two accounts were also created at CIBC bank branches.

Donations of gift cards, clothing, furniture and other household items are also being collected. People with those types of donations are asked to please call Sandra Campbell at 250-951-4738 (long distance from Nanaimo).

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