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Family found dead in Brampton home gutted by suspicious fire identified by police

Investigators have identified the members of a family found dead inside a Brampton home destroyed last week by a fire police say was suspicious.

Rajiv Warikoo, 51, Shilpa Kotha, 47, and their daughter Mahek Warikoo, 16, all lived at the residence in the area of Big Sky Way and Van Kirk Drive prior to the blaze, Peel Regional Police said in a news release Friday.

Toronto police confirmed to CBC Toronto that Rajiv Warikoo was a member of the force’s auxiliary program, their volunteer officer program. He ended his duties in 2016.

The fire broke out shortly before 1:30 p.m. on March 7. By the time crews arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. Multiple neighbours reported hearing a loud explosion prior to the blaze.

During a search of the property after the fire had been brought under control, investigators discovered what they believed to be human remains. Damage to the home was so extensive they couldn’t say at the time how many people may have been inside during the fire. 

Peel police’s homicide unit is leading the investigation alongside the Ontario Fire Marshal and Office of the Chief Coroner. 

“Our investigators are now working around the clock as the Ontario Fire Marshal has deemed this incident to be not accidental,” said Const. Taryn Young, spokesperson for Peel police.

There are still many unanswered questions about what transpired, she added.

Investigators are still trying to piece together how the fire started and the causes of death of each family member, Young said. 

Caution tape surrounds a Brampton home that has extensive damage.
Human remains were found inside the home after firefighters brought the blaze under control. (Rob Krbavac/CBC)

Neighbours shocked over fire, family’s death

Nicholas Qaqish said he was at home at the time of the fire and that he heard a loud explosion from a house down the street. Qaqish said he felt his window shake from the impact and that the heat touched his skin when he went outside to find the source of the sound.

“Everybody was freaking out, trying to figure out what was going on,” he said.

“It was one of the most craziest things I’ve ever seen, one of the most traumatic things I’ve seen, especially in this area. It’s just something that you never think would happen in your neighborhood.”

Sree Nandyala, a resident of the neighbourhood for about three years, said she was shocked to learn about what happened. As a university student, she said it was particularly sad to learn of the 16-year-old’s death.

“To find out someone so young died … it’s terrifying to think about,” she said.

“We heard that they were really good people, we heard that they’re [a] really good family. It’s really sad to think about the fact that they’re all gone.”

Anyone with information or relevant video is asked to contact Peel police or to leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers.

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