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Three children dead following house fire in Brampton, Ont.

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The mother of three boys who died after a Brampton, Ont., fire returned home from taking a younger child to school to find the house up in flames, police say.

The children – aged nine, 12 and 15 – were without vital signs and in critical condition Thursday morning when they were pulled from the townhome by firefighters and taken to hospital, said Peel Paramedic Supt. Jay Szymanski.

"All have, subsequently, unfortunately, been pronounced (dead)," Szymanski said.

Const. Akhil Mooken said Peel Regional Police responded to the house fire just after 9 a.m.

"(We arrived) maybe a minute or two before the fire department did. Officers tried several times, to try and rescue the occupants inside. But unfortunately, they were not successful," he said.

Police confirmed no other occupants were at the house when officers arrived.

Mooken said the three victims are related, but he could not confirm the nature of their relationship or their identities.

"We want to make sure we give the family as much time as possible to grieve," he said.

Police are working with Brampton Fire and Emergency Services as well as theOffice of the Fire Marshalto determine the cause of the fire.

Tim Beckett, deputy fire marshal for Ontario, said the investigation will take time.

"We're going to be here throughout several days conducting a very methodical and very detailed investigation on what happened here," he said.

He said his team will talk with the response crews and collect evidence.

"It's too early, too early, right now, to even speculate on what might have happened," he said.

Mooken said police are not investigating the fire as a neglect incident.

"This is a tragic circumstance where a mom went to drop off another child at school, returned home and discovered the home was engulfed in flames," he said at a news conference.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he was heartbroken by the news.

"No words can adequately describe the enormity of this loss. No words do justice," Brown said on social media.

"Our community grieves with this Brampton family, their friends and relatives."

Premier Doug Ford said he'd been briefed on the fire Thursday morning.

"My heart just breaks for the family and the whole community," Ford told reporters at an unrelated press conference.

"What a loss. It's terrible. Absolutely terrible."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press