Family members have identified three boys who died following a Brampton house fire on Thursday.
The boys were Alex Bagan-Overholt, 9, and his brothers Riley, 12, and Coen 15, according to the family of their mother, Heather Bagan, and her sister, Cheryl Tomatauk-Bagan, in a statement released on Friday by Peel Regional Police. A group called Malton Moms shared the statement with police.
“Heather’s boys were a delightfully rambunctious bunch, but they were also a tribe of their own. Brothers and young boys, that can most definitely be described as incredibly kind, always caring, affectionate, and more than anything, deeply loved,” the family said in the statement.
Peel police have said Bagan was taking a younger child to school when the fire broke out and that no other adult was home. One of the boys called 911, but the fire tore through the townhouse too fast for firefighters to rescue them. The boys were pulled from the home and rushed to hospital with critical injuries.
The family said all three boys died in hospital.
According to the family, the three boys are survived their sister Taylor, 21, who they reportedly adored, and their baby brother Nate, 5.
The family said Bagan was “devastated” to find her home gutted by fire.
“First responders made valiant efforts to rescue them, and we thank them for their bravery and attempts,” the family said.
Tomatauk-Bagan said in the statement: “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.”
Family asks for privacy
Coen “was known for being witty and having a great sense of humour, but he will be remembered for how he always had a smile on his face,” the family said.
Riley “was smart and observant in his own quiet way, and very spunky,” their statement continued.
Alex “was a fun, silly and happy-go-lucky boy who also always wore an infectious smile.”
Bagan’s family will travel south from its home community of Moose Factory, Ont. to provide support. Extended family from Peterborough, Ont. arrived on Friday.
“We ask that you respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time, as they continue to grieve,” the statement said.
On behalf of the family, Malton Moms has organized a GoFundMe to help Bagan to rebuild her life.
Close friend say boy’s mother surrounded with support
Crystal Mark, a close friend of Bagan, said the grieving mom is surrounded with support and police say she did nothing wrong.
“She is one of the most resilient, capable and giving parents that I’ve seen. So watching this happen feels not real,” she told CBC News on Friday.
Mark said the boys were good kids — “fun, friendly … sweet with other neighbourhood children.”
“It really is a tragedy when something like this happens.”
Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal is still investigating, but the cause of the fire may take some time to figure out.
“Our hearts go out to the family and community in this difficult time,” the fire marshal’s office said in a statement on Friday.
Deputy Fire Marshal Tim Beckett was at the scene on Thursday to offer support to Brampton firefighters and the fire marshal’s investigative team.
The fire marshal’s office has assigned four investigators to the case and staff are on the scene on Friday working with Peel Regional Police in Brampton Fire and Emergency Services.
“As the nature of any fire scene is unique, fire investigators take their time to thoroughly go through all evidence and data before finalising any report,” the fire marshal’s office said.
“As this investigation has only just begun, it would be premature to speculate on any findings or timeframe of completion.”