Questions surface over deaths of two in Shamattawa house fire
Published Wednesday, January 6, 2010 7:29PM CST
Shamattawa First Nation is dealing with the deaths of two people who were killed in a house fire on Saturday. Questions are being asked about why it took days to notice anyone was missing.
Police suspect that one of the victims might be an 11-year-old boy and some are asking why the child was not reported missing to RCMP until two days after the fire.
"We had no indication...that that there was anyone in the house," says RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Line Karpish.
Around 4 a.m. on Saturday, a passerby noticed the home on fire on Riverside Road in the northeastern Manitoba community. He broke down the door and yelled to alert anyone inside, but did not hear a response back.
Officers were called to the scene and tried unsuccessfully to contact the local fire department to respond to the blaze, said RCMP. Flames and smoke prevented anyone from getting inside the home.
The RCMP say they spoke with the owners of the home and were told everyone had been accounted for, but that information proved incorrect. Two days later officers were notified the grandson of the woman who lived at the home was missing.
Investigators returned to the charred remains of the house and located a body. RCMP suspect it to be that of the missing 11-year-old boy but an autopsy has not yet been conducted to confirm the identity. The boy was in foster care, say officials.
Awasis Agency, the foster group agency for the area, says it's looking for answers about the timeline for the boy being reported missing.
"And if the community did not know...obviously, how would we know?" asks George Muswaggon from Awasis.
Grand Chief David Harper says people in the community were looking for the boy hours after the fire. But, RCMP say they weren't notified about the missing child until about 7 p.m. on Monday.
Aboriginal leaders and the police are trying to work out a timeline but those involved admit there was a communication breakdown.
The grandmother of the 11-year-old boy was not at home the night of the fire. She had left because the home ran out of heating fuel and she went to stay with a family member. She says no one was left inside when she exited and locked the door behind her.
The body of a second person has also been recovered from the house, said RCMP on Wednesday.
RCMP say they do not yet have an idea about the identity of the second victim.
Investigators encountered difficulty examining the fire scene early on as the water supply to the home had not been turned off after the fire, flooding the house and then freezing over the rubble.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation by RCMP and the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner.
- with a report from CTV's Kelly Dehn