It was only hours after her grandmother died in a freak bus accident when Gurkiran Dhesi and her family were hit by a second trauma.
As about 25 relatives and friends were mourning in Gurkiran's home on Saturday afternoon, someone noticed smoke wafting up from the basement. "We saw the smoke and everybody ran outside," Ms. Dhesi said. "A neighbour called 911."
But it was too late for the person whose body was found in the charred wreckage of the basement, and the Dhesi family is still reeling from what appears to be a bizarre coincidence of two unrelated deaths striking residents of the same house on the same day.
Police have not identified the victim of the fire, but told reporters on Monday the fire was deliberately set. "The death is being treated as suspicious," Sergeant Randy Fincham said, urging members of the public to come forward with any further information.
The fire started around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in the basement suite of the house at 972 East 63 Ave.
Ms. Dhesi, 19, and six relatives, including her grandmother, lived on the upper floor of the house, but little is known about the tenants of the burnt-out basement suite. Neighbours and members of the Dhesi family said three people were living there, but police have not divulged the age or gender of the person who was found dead.
The other fatality happened around 9 a.m. that morning, when Naranjan Dhesi, the 80-year-old grandmother of Gurkiran, was at the Ross Street Sikh Temple to board a charter bus for a group day trip. The bus was parked on an incline, and suddenly rolled backwards just as the grandmother was climbing aboard.
Kashmir Dhariwal, a past president of the temple and the organizer of the trip, was talking with the bus driver on the sidewalk when the bus started rolling. He said the grandmother became trapped under the bus door and was dragged for a short distance.
"People on the bus were yelling 'Brake! Brake!'" Mr. Dhariwal said. The bus finally stopped when someone on board was able to get to the driver's seat and step on the brake. Sgt. Fincham said paramedics initially believed her injuries were minor, but the elder Ms. Dhesi died in the ambulance en route to the hospital. Police are still investigating what caused the bus to roll back unexpectedly. The driver, working for Premier Pacific Coach Lines, is co-operating with the investigation.