KITCHENUHMAYKOOSIB INNINUWUG, Ont. — The cause of a house fire that killed a mother and four of her young children on a northern Ontario First Nation had yet to be determined Sunday as officials worked to also identify the victims’ remains.

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation Chief Donny Morris said fire marshal officials were still at the site of Thursday’s tragedy, but the weather was making it difficult for them to investigate.

“Right now at this very moment, looking outside, we have a blizzard,” Morris said Sunday in a phone interview from the community, which is better known by its initials KI. “So it’s hampering the investigation.”

The blaze broke out in the early morning in the area, which is about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, Ont.

Killed in the fire were a single mother and four of her children — aged six, seven, nine and 12.

Morris said a daughter from the family who was away on a medical matter when the fire broke out has returned to the community “and is taking it really hard.”

As of Sunday afternoon, officials hadn’t removed the victims’ remains from the home, said Morris. He expected the remains would be flown to Toronto Sunday evening or, barring that, in the coming days to have them identified.

Morris said the community of roughly 1,000 has been hit “pretty hard” by the tragedy, and he asked for prayers for the families and residents affected.

He added they’ve received a “huge” amount of support from governments of all levels, with support workers, funds, food and acknowledgements pouring in.

“For me, it’s a very tragic event with so many families involved and affected,” Morris said. “It’s huge and I’m glad that we’re getting support from surrounding communities.”

— By Victoria Ahearn in Toronto.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press