Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2nd body found after Shamattawa house fire

Another child death that was under the care of the Awasis Child and Family Services.

Agency: Awasis CFS
Serves: Shamattawa, Cross Lake, Nelson Lake, Gods Lake Narrows, Gods Lake, Oxford House, Fox Lake, War Lake
Kids in care: 593
Kids getting support service: 889
Frontline workers: 44 (one added this year)
Reviews: Slated for next year
Child deaths: At least three since 2006

2nd body found after Shamattawa house fire

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | 10:49 AM

The remains of a second person have been found in the rubble of a weekend house fire in Shamattawa, a remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba.
A search through the debris will continue Wednesday but there are no other reports of any missing people in the community just south of Hudson Bay, the RCMP said.
The first body was found Tuesday. An autopsy has yet to be performed but RCMP suspect it is that of an 11-year-old boy reported missing on Monday.
An autopsy to identify the remains of the second body is also being arranged.
The fire, which destroyed the home, broke out at about 4 a.m. on Jan. 2, the RCMP said. Initially it was believed nobody was in the residence but on the evening of Jan. 4, the RCMP were notified by a band councillor about the 11-year-old, who had been staying at the home.
The RCMP along with local band constables and councillors tried to find the boy in the community but were unsuccessful. RCMP officers and representatives from the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner then searched the rubble and found the human remains on Tuesday.
They continued to search through the rubble and discovered the second body later the same day, the RCMP said.
Additional resources from the RCMP and the fire commissioner's office are being sent to the reserve Wednesday to assist with the investigation, the RCMP said.
Boy in care of Child and Family Services
Pharoah Thomas, a Pentecostal pastor in the community, said Tuesday the boy was in the care of Child and Family Services and was home for a family visit during the holidays.
According to members of the community, the boy was staying at the house with his grandparents.
Thomas told CBC News on Tuesday that he was awoken by a phone call early Saturday from a woman saying it would be the last time he ever heard from her and asked him to watch over her son. Then she hung up.
Thomas ran to the woman's home to try to find her and said he saw smoke.
He said he kicked the door open and crawled inside, feeling around in the dark. He tried to check all the bedrooms but the heat and flames drove him back before he was able to enter the last one, he said.
He hollered but received no response, and then got out of the house.
No response from firefighters
Officers from the Shamattawa RCMP detachment arrived at the house shortly after that. They attempted to contact the local volunteer fire department without success, RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Line Karpish said on Tuesday.
She said she didn't know why there was no response from fire crews and deferred comment on the matter to band officials.
Band council Chief Jeff Napoakesik refused to immediately comment on Tuesday but confirmed the community does have a fire chief. Napoakesik didn't identify him.
However, Curtis Smith, who heads the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters, said fire response in remote communities can be a hit-and-miss venture.
He said that Shamattawa does have a fire truck and that a few of the community's volunteer firefighters attended training sessions in Winnipeg last summer.
Smith said he wasn't sure what emergency communication infrastructure the community has.
On Sunday, the day after the blaze, RCMP officers located the owners of the home at a relative's house in the community. They were safe, and there was no indication that anyone else was in the burned house, Karpish said.
"We were told there was no reason for anyone else to be in the house — there shouldn't have been anyone in the house," she said.
It wasn't until Monday that officers were told about the missing boy.


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