PUBNICO, N.S. - A Nova Scotia fishing village is shaken after a house fire left four people dead early Sunday, including at least two children, according to a relative.
RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said two people escaped the fire in Pubnico Head, N.S, near Yarmouth, one of whom has been taken to hospital.
Ervin Olsen said two of his great-grandchildren were among the four people who died, but he declined to give further details, saying the losses were too "fresh."
"There's still people in hospital fighting for their life," he said Sunday night.
Four children lived in the now-destroyed home and their father is being treated in hospital, where his common-law wife is with him, said Red Cross spokesperson Melanie MacDonald.
MacDonald said the common-law couple lived in the home with their blended family, and a relative told the Red Cross an infant boy was among those killed in the blaze.
"There were three other children in the house, but the only thing we know of age-wise is there was an infant boy," said MacDonald.
Clarke confirmed there were multiple fatalities in the fire, which was reported to police shortly after midnight, but she could not confirm how many people died or their ages.
She said police have spoken to the families of the deceased.
"I cannot imagine how any family member would take news like this," Clarke told reporters on Sunday. "This is a horrible, horrible tragedy for anyone to experience."
Clarke said the RCMP are in early stages of a "complex" investigation, which will be assisted by the force's Major Crime Unit, the Nova Scotia Office of the Fire Marshal and the province's medical examiner.
Clarke would not say whether the fire is believed to be suspicious.
Dozens of firefighters from several departments in the area were sent to the scene, and arrived to find the home fully engulfed in flames, said Troy Amirault, deputy chief of the West Pubnico Fire Department.
Crews battled the blaze for a couple of hours, he said, but the house was destroyed, with only one wall left standing.
Kathy Bourque, a municipal councillor in Pubnico Head, said the deaths have devastated the small community on Nova Scotia's southwest coast.
"Everybody knows everybody here in the community, so we're a close-knit family," Bourque said in an interview. "When tragic things like this hits, it hits everybody."
Bourque said she learned about the fatal fire from her husband, a firefighter who responded to the scene.
"My heart sank to my feet," she said. "I can't imagine myself being those people in the family's shoes. It's unreal."