© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
A fire investigator sifts through debris inside a building that burned in a fire that left three people dead and one injured.
Fire and police inspectors are continuing their investigation into the deaths of three young people whose bodies were found inside a burning building on Mount Edward Road in Charlottetown on Saturday.
Autopsies on the three young victims were performed Sunday at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
Their identities have not yet been released.
Charlottetown Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan would not say whether the delay in identifying the three victims is due to the state of the bodies discovered after being in a fire.
A fourth young male who managed to escape the burning building was airlifted to Halifax for treatment of his injuries.
McGuigan said his status was unknown as of Sunday evening, but confirmed he is alive.
Charlottetown police are planning to interview him, although he is still being treated in Halifax.
“We are in the process of making arrangement to interview him, bearing in mind his condition and his availability because of his condition,” McGuigan said.
In the meantime, fire inspectors and police are continuing their work in sifting through the charred remains of the building on Mount Edward Road in an effort to determine the cause of the fire.
McGuigan has said there was no electricity in the building, so the cause of the fire is not believed to be electrical.
The fire is believed to have ignited shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday and quickly engulfed the building in tall flames and thick, dark smoke.
Neighbours describe the fire as intense. Some were concerned it may spread to neighbouring homes, especially when they observed firefighters struggling to reach the building. The parking lot in front of the structure had not been plowed and was covered in around three feet of snow.
Neighbours also said firefighters were trying to dig through snowdrifts when they first arrived, searching for a fire hydrant.
“All day we thought it was just a normal fire, but when they were still here (hours later), I said to my husband this is something different,” said Joyce Barbour, who lives across the street from the building.
“I saw the firefighters standing out front and they had flashlights and stuff, but it was just blowing right out and I saw them having to back up,” said a resident who lives across the street, but who did not want to be identified.
“It was pretty chaotic.”
It took approximately two hours to put the fire out, at which time the three bodies were discovered inside.
Fire inspectors worked through the night Saturday and Sunday to try to determine the cause of the fire, and that investigation is still ongoing.
McGuigan says these efforts could be hampered by teh weather.
Freezing rain warnings were in effect for the city region Sunday evening and significant snowfall has been predicted for Monday. This could mean the fire investigation could take up to two or three days, McGuigan said.
He added some new information may be available Monday.