Crews are attempting to locate the body of a 12-year-old boy believed to be inside a burnt-out house in Markham where an explosion and fire occurred on Sunday morning.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang coming from a townhouse in the area of Bur Oak Avenue and Kennedy Road at around 10 a.m.

A fire subsequently broke out at the residence and spread to adjacent homes.

Police say a woman, now identified by family members as Chia Hamid, and two of her sons, Ahmed, 14, and Zheer, 6, were able to escape the fire.

Investigators say one of the victims escaped from a second-floor window while the other two likely vacated the home through the front door.

The mother and her two sons were rushed to hospital. Police said Sunday that all three are in critical condition.

The children's father, Tahir Hamid, was not home at the time of the fire.

After the fire was brought under control, emergency crews learned that another son, 12-year-old Aran Hamid, had not been located.

Hamid, family, Markham,

The children's father watched through tears Monday as workers used heavy machinery to comb through the wreckage of the home.

"I was coming to Canada to save my family," Tahir Hamid told reporters through tears before being overcome with emotion.

The Kurdish family fled Iran three years ago.

Investigators with the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM), which is leading the fire investigation, have not yet been able to enter the residence due to structural concerns.

OFM Supervisor Jeff Tebby told CP24 on Monday that the body of the missing child is believed to be in the basement.

Aran Hamid, inline

“It will be a systematic, detailed search of the basement once we get in there, removing debris with the heavy equipment and then digging, raking, sifting by hand.”

He said after doing work at the back of the residence to access a gas line, crews have now moved to the front of the townhouse.

"We are now transitioning to the front to begin demolition of the units adjacent to the unit of origin so that we can safely get into the basement and go through the basement to look for the victim and conduct our origin and cause investigation," he said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined but on Sunday, police said there was nothing to indicate that the incident was suspicious in nature.