Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

January 24, 2014

Fire at Quebec senior home; 5 dead, 30 missing

L’ISLE-VERTE, Quebec — A fire raged through a seniors’ home in eastern Quebec on Thursday, trapping residents dependent on wheelchairs and walkers. Five died, about 30 were missing and Canada’s prime minister said there is little doubt the death toll will be high.

Officials said firefighters saw and heard people in the building that they were unable to save.

Many of those unaccounted for were confined to wheelchairs and walkers and only five residents in the center were fully autonomous, said Ginette Caron, acting mayor of the small town of L’Isle-Verte, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) northeast of Quebec City.

She said some had Alzheimer’s disease.

The massive fire in the three-story building broke out around 12:30 a.m. and raged through the night. Firefighters arrived within eight minutes of getting the alarm and several fire departments in the region were called in to help. But they were unable to carry out a complete evacuation because of the intensity of the fire. About 20 residents were transported to safety.

“It was a total fire,”L’Iles-Verte fire chief Yvan Charron said.

Pascal Fillion, who lives near the seniors’ home, said he ran outside to find a group of locals and firefighters already at the scene, trying everything to save the panicked people inside.

For the most part, he said, rescuers felt helpless against a fast-moving blaze with smoke so thick it was nearly impossible to approach the building.

“People tried to do whatever they could, but the fire was so intense that there wasn’t much that could be done,” he said. “I saw people crying, I saw people collapse because they were watching those people burn.”

The fire broke out in -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) temperatures, causing equipment to freeze, Charron said.

As morning dawned and the fire was brought under control, the burned section of the facility resembled a macabre ice palace, with sheets of ice and thick icicles covering the structure.

The search for the missing was still hampered Thursday night by the cold and thick ice and the fact that the building has collapsed, said Quebec Provincial police Lt. Guy Lapointe. Lapointe said late Thursday that the search for those missing will regroup at daylight.

“We can keep some hope for those unaccounted for, but there’s very little doubt that the loss of life is considerable,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Retired police officer Pierre Filion, who had a cousin and an aunt living in the residence and who lives nearby, said the tragedy had shaken the tightly knit community of 1,500 people.

“It’s going to take a long time to start living normally,” said Filion whose missing relatives are both in their 70s.

Outside the building, Jacques Berube, 70, was getting ready to hear the worst about his 99-year-old mother, who is blind but still mobile.

“I went near the building; the corner where her room was is burned,” he said. “I’ll just have to wait and see. I don’t like it. But I don’t have any choice. It’s just reality.”

Parts of the Residence du Havre, which opened in 1997, had sprinklers, while others didn’t.

Charron chief said sprinklers did go off, triggering the fire alarm and allowing firefighters to gain access to about one-third of the building.

Mario Michaud, who lives across the street from the building, said he witnessed the unfolding drama shortly after midnight.

“The fire had started on the second floor. I woke up my girlfriend and called 911. I saw the firefighters and they got to work.  A woman on the second floor was shouting and she went out on to the balcony. Her son went to get a ladder but he couldn’t get to her. She burned to death,” Michaud told local newspaper Info Dimanche.

At least three people were injured in the blaze. The extent of their injuries was unclear.

The building was home to more than 50 people and also housed a social agency, a pharmacy and a hair salon.

A Quebec Health Department document updated last July said the building, with one elevator, was constructed entirely of wood.

Most residents were older than 75 and 37 of them were older than 85. The building included both single rooms and apartment-style dwellings. The document also indicates the building was only partially fitted with a sprinkler system but did have a fire alarm. There were smoke detectors in every room and in the building itself.

The fire comes just six months after 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a train with 72 oil tankers derailed and exploded in the small community.

In 1969, a nursing home fire in the community of Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Quebec, claimed 54 lives.

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Boston Marathon Bombi_Rich copy.jpg Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP120401029 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 15, the 105th day of 2014. There are 260 days left in the year.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Station_Rich copy.jpg NASA OKs space station visit despite dead computer

    NASA is pressing ahead with Monday’s planned launch of a supply ship despite a critical computer outage at the International Space Station, promising the situation is safe.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fatal Shooting Kansas_Rich copy.jpg 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seven Dead Babies Arr_Rich(1) copy.jpg Utah woman arrested after 7 dead babies found

    A Utah woman accused of killing several babies she gave birth to over 10 years was arrested Sunday after police discovered seven tiny bodies stuffed in separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home.
    Megan Huntsman, 39, who lived in the Pleasant Grove home until three years ago, had the infants between 1996 and 2006, investigators said.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP110714053482 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 14, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 14, the 104th day of 2014. There are 261 days left in the year. The Jewish holiday Passover begins at sunset.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Range Showdow_Rich copy.jpg Feds release cows gathered in Nevada roundup

    Federal land managers confirmed Saturday that they released all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Ukraine_Rich copy.jpg Uniformed men occupy Donetsk police HQ

    Men in the uniforms of Ukraine’s now-defunct riot police on Saturday occupied police headquarters in Donetsk, the eastern city that is one of the flashpoints of a wave of pro-Russia protests, hours after armed men seized local police headquarters and a local branch of the Security Service in a nearby city.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Australia Malaysia Pl_Rich copy.jpg Long hunt for missing jet looms as pings go silent

    After a week of optimism over four underwater signals believed to be coming from the missing Malaysian plane, the sea has gone quiet and Australia’s leader is warning that the massive search will likely be long.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP82016106626 copy.jpg Today in History for Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Today is Palm Sunday, April 13, the 103rd day of 2014. There are 262 days left in the year.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results