Three boys who died in a Brampton, Ont., house fire on Thursday are being remembered as kind, affectionate and caring children.
The boys were identified as 15-year-old Coen Bagan-Overholt, 12-year-old Riley Bagan-Overholt and nine-year-old Alex Bagan-Overholt by the community organization Malton Moms, which released a statement on behalf of the boys’ family.
The statement says the boys’ mother, Heather Bagan, returned home after bringing her youngest child to daycare, only to find her house gutted by fire.
Peel Regional Police have said the boys were rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition on Thursday morning, and eventually died of their injuries.
Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal said it would investigate the cause of the fire.
The family’s statement thanks responders for their attempts to save the boys. It describes Coen as being “witty and having a great sense of humour,” Riley as “smart and observant in his own quiet way” and Alex as “a fun, silly and happy go lucky boy who also always wore an infectious smile.”
The three leave their 21-year-old sister Taylor and their five-year-old brother Nate.
Neighbours at the scene said Ms. Bagan is a single mother. The family’s statement says relatives are travelling from Moose Factory, Ont., to be together in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“We thank you for the kind words of support and comfort, for the thoughts, donations, and for the empathy and love that has been expressed by so many who share our grief and loss during this unimaginable time,” Ms. Bagan’s sister Cheryl Tomatuk-Bagan said in the family’s statement.
Neighbours set up a makeshift memorial near the destroyed house, with flowers and stuffed animals.
Samantha Thorburn, a neighbour who knows the family, said the three boys were full of energy and life. “They were always having fun. It’s hard to think that they’re gone. The three of them were very close to each other,” she said.
Rajdai Jaglal, another neighbourhood resident, said the community is in shock.
“This incident was really disturbing for all of us. Even those of us that didn’t know the family want to step up and help the mother in any way we can,” Ms. Jaglal said.
“Ours is a very peaceful community, we’ve never seen anything like this. Any death is tragic, but the death of children is especially tragic.”
Earlier this week, Premier Doug Ford offered his condolences in a tweet. “My heart breaks for this family and the entire community affected in Brampton. I echo Mayor Patrick Brown in thanking the brave fire fighters for their efforts. I understand they did everything they could. This is an absolute tragedy.”
An online fundraiser for the family’s rehousing and funeral costs had raised more than $150,000 as of Saturday afternoon.
With a report from Uday Rana
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