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CANADA: Seven children died in Halifax house fire (6 photos)

A man has life-threatening injuries and a woman has non-life threatening injuries

With files from Canadian Press

Halifax Regional Police say seven people are dead as a result of an overnight fire on Quartz Drive in Spryfield.

"All deceased are believed to be young children from the same family," said said Cst. John MacLeod in a news release.

Two people were hurt and have been taken to hospital. A man has life-threatening injuries and a woman has non-life threatening injuries.

Emergency crews were called to the home just before 1 a.m. Monday to find the fire on the first and second floors.

Danielle Burt, who lives next door, said she heard a loud bang and a woman screaming just after 12:30 a.m.

She fled the house with her four children and saw the parents outside in a harrowing scene.

"The mother was on the grass, praying I guess, bowing her hands down, and pulling on my husband's arm to call 911," she said, becoming emotional.

"She said the kids were inside and the dad was sitting on the steps. I think he had gone back in because he was really burnt. It was just awful."

Another neighbour, who didn't want to be identified, told The Canadian Press that she was startled awake by screams.

"We heard horrible screams and then got up and saw the flames," she said. "It was horrible. We called 911 but it took a long time to get through because apparently everyone was calling 911 at the same time."

The woman said she and her husband heard men yelling and they saw a woman in distress in the street.

"I saw a woman kind of flailing around on the road, she looked to be in a lot of distress," her husband said. "The police were kind of helping her, I don't know if they were holding her back from going back, but she was kind of falling down, they were lifting her up." 

The woman said the fire spread very quickly as they watched.

"It was really scary," she said.

"I was nervous it was going to hit the house next door but it didn't. And then the fire crews finally got here, but there were flames shooting out the front of the house, like shooting out the windows. It was horrible."

The woman said she saw at least two body bags taken from the home.

Police have scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m.

The top level of the home has been extensively damaged with substantial gaps visible in the roof and second floor of the building.

There also appears to be damage to the homes on either side in the newly built residential neighbourhood.

Halifax District Fire Chief Mike Blackburn said the fire was very heavy when they arrived, but firefighters were able to "knock it down" quickly.

He wouldn't discuss the number of deaths, but suggested fire fighters were deeply affected by what they saw.

"They'll process this over time but it's very difficult and it's not going to get any easier."

At this time, there is no information available about a cause of the blaze.

Police are asking people to stay out of the area to allow emergency personnel to do their jobs.

The investigation is continuing, and the street has been closed to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.